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Corruption reference against Durrani, others admitted for hearing

Updated July 01, 2019

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Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani was arrested by NAB in February. — Online/File
Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani was arrested by NAB in February. — Online/File

An accountability court on Monday accepted for hearing a reference against Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani and his family members, who are among 20 people suspected of amassing assets worth over Rs1.61 billion through unlawful means.

Durrani, a senior leader of the PPP, was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from an Islamabad hotel on February 20 for investigation into his alleged movable and immovable assets beyond his known sources of income, 352 illegal appointments, embezzlement of public funds in the construction of the MPA Hostel and the new Sindh Assembly building, as well as the appointment of project directors for these schemes.

Accountability court-III judge Dr Sher Bano Karim today admitted the reference after hearing arguments from the NAB prosecutor and the defence counsel.

The court issued notices to all the nominated suspects to appear on the next date and adjourned the hearing.

The accountability watchdog has named Durrani’s wife, Naheed Durrani; son Agha Shahbaz Ali Khan Durrani; daughters Sanam, Shahana and Sara; and his younger brother Agha Masihuddin Khan Durrani in the reference.

Other suspects include the provincial speaker's personal secretary, Zulfiqar Ali Dahar; a schoolteacher named Shamshad Khatoon; real estate agent Aslam Pervaiz Langah; and town officer Shakeel Ahmed Soomro.

The reference mentioned that the evidence collected during the inquiry and investigation established that Durrani after becoming minister for local government (from April 12, 2008 till March 20, 2013) and speaker Sindh Assembly (since May 30, 2013) accumulated assets/pecuniary resources worth Rs1,610,669,528 (after deduction of declared income in the Federal Board of Revenue) through illegal means and in active connivance with his 19 co-accused, who are his family members, servants and front-men as benamidars.

It further said a supplementary reference would be filed, if necessary, after the arrest of the suspects who were absconders. The accused persons have thus committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices as defined under Sections 9(a)(iii)(iv)(v) and (xii) punishable under Section 10 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 and scheduled thereto, it stated.

According to the reference, Durrani had declared his income to NAB from 1985 till June 2018 as Rs82,927,218 while the total gross income of the family as declared to FBR was Rs110,460,343. However, the properties/assets/expenditure incurred in his name as well as in the name of his family members/dependants and benamidars had so far been determined at Rs1,721,129,871. He failed to reasonably explain the difference of Rs1,610,669,528.

It stated that assets worth millions of rupees were found in the name of his wife, daughters, son, brother and others, who allegedly failed to prove the legitimacy of the moveable and immovable assets.