Former Panamagate JIT head Wajid Zia testifies against Ishaq Dar in corruption reference

Published April 24, 2019
The former head of the Panamagate joint investigation team, Wajid Zia, concluded that former finance minister Ishaq Dar's assets are disproportionate to his sources of income. ─ File
The former head of the Panamagate joint investigation team, Wajid Zia, concluded that former finance minister Ishaq Dar's assets are disproportionate to his sources of income. ─ File

The National Accountability Bureau prosecution's star witness and former head of the Panamagate joint investigation team, Wajid Zia, testified against former finance minister Ishaq Dar on Wednesday.

In a statement recorded before the accountability court, Zia stated that Dar's assets had grown manifold from 1982-83 till 2008.

He said that in 1982-83, Dar owned assets worth Rs9.1 million. These assets increased exponentially within a few years, with Dar declaring Rs831.6 million assets in 2008.

Zia concluded that Dar possessed assets which were disproportionate to and beyond his known sources of income.

As the former minister has not appeared before the court since 2017 despite repeated notices, the accountability court has already declared him a proclaimed offender and attached his bank accounts and other properties.

NAB has also seized all of Dar’s moveable and immoveable assets, including a house in Gulberg III, Lahore; three plots in Al-Falah Housing Society, Lahore; six acres of land in Islamabad, a two-kanal plot in the Parliamentarians’ Enclave, Islamabad; a plot in the Senate Cooperative Housing Society, Islamabad; another plot measuring two kanals and nine marlas in Islamabad and six vehicles.

Zia informed Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir that Dar, through his accomplices, opened accounts in Bank of America, Al-Tawfeeq Investment Company and Emirates Bank.

He testified that the former president of the National Bank of Pakistan, Saeed Ahmed, and other officials of Dar's firm, Hajvery Modaraba, opened fake accounts to facilitate transactions of ill-gotten money.

Zia concluded his statement, after which the accountability court adjourned further proceedings till May 8. The defence counsel will cross-examine Zia on the said date.

'Assets beyond known income'

The noose began tightening around the former finance minister after NAB decided to reopen the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference against him in 2017.

The Hudaibiya reference will be the second ‘mega-corruption’ case against Dar being investigated by NAB, after the reference filed against him in the wake of the Panama Papers case judgement.

The reopening of the case was recommended by the Panamagate JIT which was probing the allegations against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members.

On July 28, 2017, a five-member Supreme Court bench had ordered NAB to file three references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and one against Dar, on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Sirajul Haq and Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

In its reference against the finance minister, NAB has alleged that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his own name and/or in the name of his dependents of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million (approx)”.

The reference alleged that the assets were “disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for”.

Dar has been in London since October 2017 owing to what his counsel claims is "a medical issue".

In December 2017, an accountability court had declared him an absconder after he failed to appear in a corruption reference against him. He is accused of amassing assets beyond his known sources of income.

In May 2018, the Supreme Court had suspended his Senate membership, while in June 2018, the interior ministry had issued red warrants against him.



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