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ISLAMABAD: Wajid Zia, the main prosecution witness of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), testified against former finance minister Ishaq Dar before the accountability court on Wednesday.

Mr Zia led the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in the Panama Papers case which was constituted by the Supreme Court to investigate the assets of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his children and Mr Dar. The JIT report submitted to the court on July 10, 2017 led to Mr Sharif’s disqualification from PM office and the court directed filing three references against the Sharifs and one against Dar.

Mr Zia stated before the accountability court that Mr Dar’s assets had grown exponentially from 1982-83 till 2008. “In 1982-83, Dar owned assets worth Rs9.1 million and by 2008 he declared assets worth Rs831.6 million.” He told Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir that the former finance minister opened accounts in Bank of America, Al-Taw­feeq Invest­ment Company and Emirates Bank through his accomplices.

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

After he recorded his statement, the court adjour­ned further proceedings till May 8. The defence counsel will cross-examine Mr Zia on the next date of hearing.

Mr Dar has not appeared before the court since 2017 despite repeated notices, with the result that the accountability court has already declared him a proclaimed offender and attached his bank accounts and other properties.

NAB has also seized all of Mr 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.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2019