ISLAMABAD: After three days of deliberations in the light of the Supreme Court’s orders, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal has referred the fake bank accounts and money laundering case to the bureau’s Rawalpindi office.
Now Rawalpindi NAB Director General Irfan Mangi, who was a member of the joint investigation team (JIT) in Panama Papers leak case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, will supervise the case against former president Asif Ali Zardari, other top leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and real estate tycoon Malik Riaz.
The Supreme Court in its judgement had directed the NAB to file a reference against the accused in the accountability court, Rawalpindi / Islamabad and not at Karachi.
“Investigation against Bilawal and Murad Ali Shah will continue but their names will be removed from ECL,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said.
The same officer who was part of JIT in Panama Papers case will supervise the matter against Zardari, Malik Riaz
Initially, the NAB starts an inquiry on a complaint and in case some credible evidences are found the inquiry is turned into an investigation and after that it is decided whether a reference should be filed in the accountability court or not.
In this specific case Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Accountability Shahzad Akbar had said the NAB will not go for an inquiry but will start investigation on the basis of inquiry conducted by the JIT formed by the Supreme Court.
The JIT in its report has accused 172 people of having fake bank accounts and indulging in money laundering. They include PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Faryal Talpur, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Bahria Town owner Malik Riaz.
According to the Supreme Court’s order, over 170 accused including Asif Zardari, Faryal Talpur and Malik Riaz will continue to remain on the ECL. The court asked the anti-corruption watchdog to conclude its investigation within two months.
Those found guilty of corruption will have two options: either to face a reference or ask for a plea bargain.
While the JIT had recommended 16 references against the accused, it was up to NAB how it would treat them.
During the NAB investigation the accused will have to tell that how Bahria Town grew in Karachi and how state land was handed over to it.
The government has claimed that an inquiry into fake accounts had been started in 2015 by then interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2019