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Sindh Assembly speaker to be indicted on 26th in Rs1.61bn assets case

Updated July 13, 2019

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Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani. — Online/File
Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani. — Online/File

KARACHI: An accountability court on Friday fixed July 26 for indictment of Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, his spouse, children and others in a case pertaining to alleged accumulation of assets worth over Rs1.61 billion.

Mr Durrani, a senior leader of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party in Sindh, was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau from an Islamabad hotel on Feb 20.

NAB took his custody for investigation into his alleged movable and immovable assets beyond his known sources of income, making 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.

The matter came up for hearing before Judge Dr Sher Bano Karim of the Accountability Court-III on Friday. Mr Durrani was produced from prison and 19 other suspects also appeared in court.

NAB says Agha Siraj failed to explain difference of Rs1.6bn between his income and expenses

The judge directed the prosecutor to provide copies of documentary evidence, as required under Section 265-C of the Criminal Procedure Code, to the suspects and fixed the matter for July 26 for their indictment.

NAB had filed a reference against 20 suspects, including Mr Durrani, his wife Naheed Durrani, son Agha Shahbaz Ali Khan Durrani, daughters Sanam, Shahana and Sara, his younger brother Agha Masihuddin Khan Durrani and his alleged frontmen and abettors.

The reference mentioned that the evidence collected during the inquiry and investigation established that Mr Durrani after becoming minister for local government (from April 12, 2008 till March 20, 2013) and speaker of the 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 frontmen as benamidars.

It said that the accused persons were found involved in the offence of corruption and corrupt practices punishable under Section 10 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

The reference stated that Mr Durrani declared to NAB his income from 1985 till June 2018 as Rs82,927,218 and total gross income of the family declared to the 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 Rs1.721bn. He failed to reasonably explain the difference of Rs1.610bn.

It mentioned that the assets worth over Rs310 million were allegedly found in the name of his wife, daughters, son, brother and frontmen and abettors.

A supplementary reference would be filed, if deemed necessary, after arrest of absconders, it added.

Case against Rauf Siddiqui

Another accountability court on Friday fixed Aug 3 for indictment of former Sindh commerce and industries minister Rauf Siddiqui and others in a case pertaining to alleged illegal appointments in the Sindh Small Industries Corporation.

NAB booked Mr Siddiqui of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan along with the then managing directors of the corporation — Mushtaq Ali and Mohammad Abid — and five directors for allegedly making 372 appointments against merit between 2008 and 2012. The alleged illegal appointments mostly made on political basis caused losses of Rs420 million to the exchequer, it added.

Judge Aaliya Latif Unnar of the AC-II took up the matter on Friday.

The court directed the prosecution to provide copies of documentary evidence to the suspects and fixed the matter for their indictment on Aug 3.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2019