ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday reviewed progress in investigations into corruption allegedly committed by former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former president Asif Zardari and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, his sons and “cronies”.
The matter was discussed at a meeting chaired by NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal at the bureau’s headquarters.
“The meeting reviewed progress on the ongoing inquiries/investigations of mega corruption... of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza Shahbaz, Salman Shahbaz, Hassan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Ahad Cheema, Fawad Hassan Fawad, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal, Miftah Ismael, Imran ul Haq Sheikh and others,” said a press release issued by the anti-graft watchdog.
The meeting also reviewed progress in the investigations into fake accounts cases against Mr Zardari, Abdul Ghani Majeed, Anwar Majeed and others, besides reviewing recovery of looted money and depositing it in the national exchequer.
The meeting was also attended by Deputy chairman of NAB Hussain Asghar and other senior officials, including the prosecutor general, director general (operations), DG NAB Rawalpindi and director generals of other regional bureaus through video link.
The NAB top command also discussed investigations against 56 companies of Punjab and latest situation about recovery of looted money from CEOs of public limited companies and the process of depositing it in the national exchequer.
The meeting also reviewed progress in investigations in sugar and wheat scandals, especially embezzlement of wheat in Sindh and recovery of Rs10 billion.
Cases regarding Kachhi canal, Gwadar Development Authority, progress in inquiries/investigations in the affairs of 435 offshore companies against Saifullah brothers, Aleem Khan and others and mutual legal assistance applications sent to different countries, on-going inquiries/investigations against Khyber Bank, Peshawar, Amir Muqam, retired Capt Safdar, Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, Akram Durrani and probes into fake cooperative housing societies and Modaraba/Musharaka scams in which NAB had arrested 45 accused were also reviewed.
Participants of the meeting decided to utilise all available resources for return of looted money from corrupt elements.
The meeting also reviewed measures taken for the arrest of proclaimed offenders and absconders.
The anti-graft watchdog decided to conclude complaint verifications, inquiries and investigations within the prescribed timeframe and file early hearing applications in various accountability courts, besides filing appeals against grant of bail to accused persons so that the cases could be concluded to their logical end as per law.
Speaking on the occasion, the NAB chairman said the bureau had chalked out a three-pronged strategy comprising awareness, prevention and enforcement to make Pakistan a corruption-free country. “NAB has no affiliation with any political party as it is national anti-corruption institution having only affiliation with state of Pakistan,” he added.
He said NAB strictly believed in serving the country as per law and continued to do so without caring about any pressure, threat and propaganda. “NAB would continue to perform its duties as per law as its officers always believe in elimination of corruption from country as their national duty,” he added.
The chairman appreciated the performance of all DGs and directed them to keep up the good work in future “Due to our continued efforts to combat corruption, reputed national and international organisations have appreciated NAB’s performance which is [a matter of] pride for Pakistan,” he added.
In a separate meeting, the NAB chief said the bureau was committed to rooting out corruption with iron hands in an atmosphere of renewed energy and dynamism.
He said NAB officers should double their efforts in nabbing corrupt elements and recovering from them hard-earned looted money of innocent people.
Mr Iqbal said to eliminate the possibility of any NAB officer influencing the discharge of official business, a new concept of “combined investigation team” had been introduced under which two investigation officers, a legal consultant, a financial expert under the supervision of the additional director/case and the director concerned were working as a team to ensure fair, transparent and unbiased, inquiry/ investigations.
The quality of inquiry and investigation, he said, must have improved due to establishment of NAB’s first forensic science lab in Islamabad which had the facilities of digital forensics and document and fingerprint analysis which would help in gaining solid evidence during conduct of inquiries and investigations.
He recalled that NAB had recovered Rs153bn during 2019 and the conviction rate of its cases in accountability courts was about 70 per cent.
He said NAB Ordinance 1999’s preamble emphasised on recovery of looted money. “Due to this reason, NAB has recovered Rs328 billion since its inception,” he added.
Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2020