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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday dismissed a petition seeking the acquittal of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) President Saeed Ahmed, who has been implicated as co-accused in a reference related to the assets of defunct minister Ishaq Dar.

The NBP president, through his counsel Hashmat Habib, had filed a petition under Criminal Procedure Code section 265-D for acquittal for want of evidence.

The petition argued that “the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in para 7 of the supplementary reference made a novel assertion and imaginary inclusion of applicant”.

The supplementary reference stated that Mr Ahmed “has refused to answer questions or to provide information to NAB, thus, the accused person has been found involved in the commission of offences of corruption and corrupt practices”.

Before the IHC bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Mr Habib said the reference against Mr Ahmed was filed on the basis of assumption that, according to NAB’s understanding, amounted to aiding and abetting the offence.

On March 14, Mr Ahmed had filed an identical application before the accountability court, which dismissed six days later.

The accountability judge declared: “Offence [against Mr Ahmed] in general terms is defined as illegal act or omission. An illegal omission can also constitute an offence. Accused/applicant has to explain his position why he kept mum for a considerable time, when accounts opened in his name were being operated.

He is employee in a bank, the question is whether any action is taken on his part or not.”

The counsel said Mr Ahmed was a highly qualified individual and had been living abroad for a long time. He said the bureau implicated him for opening bank accounts in his name when he was not in the country.

He asked the court to acquit the NBP president as there was no evidence against him.

NAB implicated Mr Ahmed and two director’s of Mr Dar’s Hajveri Modaraba – Naeem Mahmood and Syed Mansoor Raza Rizvi – as co-accused in the supplementary reference against the former finance minister.

Mr Dar has already been declared a proclaimed offender by the accountability court.

NAB has alleged in the reference that “accused Saeed Ahmed was one of the directors of Hajveri Modaraba Management Company and 7,000 shares in Hajveri Holding (Pvt) Limited were also transferred in his favour from the wife of principal accused [Mohammad Ishaq Dar]”.

The reference alleged that seven bank accounts were opened in Mr Ahmed’s name, as per the investigation conducted so far, were prima facie used for the benefit of Mr Dar and his companies. “He had intentionally allowed accused to open/operate/use bank accounts in his name to protect his ill-gotten money,” it said.

Regarding Naeem Mahmood, the reference stated that he “was one of the directors of Hajveri Modaraba…[and he] aided, abetted, assisted the main accused in commission of offence by facilitating him in the opening of bank accounts being an introducer”.

The third accused, Syed Mansoor Raza Rizvi, was a shareholder in First Hajveri Modaraba. As per NAB’s investigation, he helped Mr Dar as he collected the cheque book pertaining to Mr Ahmed’s bank accounts.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2018