ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has said Minister of State for Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari alias Zulfi Bukhari was not cooperating with the investigators probing a case related to his alleged illegitimate assets.
NAB on Monday submitted its reply to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in reply to petition filed by Mr Bukhari seeking removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL).
The bureau stated: “The respondent (NAB) has initiated the inquiry proceeding against the petitioner as per mandate of law, to probe into allegations of corruption and corrupt practices under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.”
Special Prosecutor NAB Imran Shafique appeared before the court and informed Justice Aamer Farooq that the interior ministry on the request of NAB had placed Mr Bukhari on the ECL on Aug 4 since he was facing an inquiry for accumulating assets beyond known sources of income.
“The petitioner intentionally avoided appearance before the investigation officer and concealed himself from the inquiry proceedings.”
The reply said since there were “strong apprehensions of his abscondance, NAB recommended to the Ministry of Interior for placing the petitioner on the ECL in order to ensure his attendance in the inquiry proceedings.”
Regarding the ongoing inquiry, the reply said: “Consequent upon revelation of Panama Papers, various allegations leveled that the petitioner in connivance with others has established various offshore companies in the British Virgin Island (BVI).”
It said the chairman NAB had authorised an inquiry on Jan 15 to probe into allegations against the petitioner and unearth the element of corruption in establishment of companies in BVI.
“The petitioner along with his family members own companies namely K Factor, Broadbury, Baytech Limited, Bayla Trading, Poieim Trading and Genstam Trading Limited incorporated in the BVI since 2006 onward. These companies established in the BVI have not been declared or reported to the concerned authorities in Pakistan.”
The bureau said Mr Bukhari “did not cooperate with NAB by knowingly and willfully not joining the inquiry proceedings even after issuance of four summons.”
Mr Bukhari in his petition adopted that he “is a British citizen of Pakistani origin…and is currently at Islamabad…his spouse and children are domiciled [in UK] from where his business interests are managed.”
The petition said that Mr Bukhari was cooperating with the investigation team but “was shocked and dismayed to learn” that he was placed on the ECL.
The petition said Section 3 of the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Ordinance 1981 provided for a right of review for any order made by the federal government. However, such a review only creates an illusory remedy.
Interestingly, Mr Bukhari criticised his own government as the petition said: “The petitioner filed a representation and review petition…despite passage of about two months, the review petition of the petitioner has neither been put up for the cabinet, nor decision has been taken thereon by the federal government.”
It requested the court to direct the interior ministry to remove his name from the ECL.
The IHC adjourned further hearing on the petition to Nov 27.
Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2018