LAHORE: The country’s anti-graft body on Thursday approved filing a corruption reference in the accountability court against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s powerful senior minister in Punjab Abdul Aleem Khan for allegedly possessing assets worth Rs1.4 billion beyond his known sources of income.

The reference was approved at a meeting of the regional board of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) with its Director General Shahzad Saleem in the chair. The DG had taken verbal approval of NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal during his visit to the bureau on Wednesday.

It has been sent to the NAB headquarters for formal approval from the executive board meeting (EBM).

Prime Minister Imran Khan may have to review his decision to have Mr Aleem in the cabinet of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar once the corruption reference is filed against him.

Aleem Khan was arrested by NAB in February last year on income beyond means and other corruption allegations. He secured bail in May last year and was subsequently allowed to become part of the provincial cabinet. At the time of the Punjab government formation after the 2018 general election, Aleem Khan was considered a strong candidate for the chief minister slot.

According to the proposed draft of the reference, Mr Khan, who also holds the food department portfolio, could not provide/justify his assets here and abroad worth Rs1.4bn. “A number of properties of Mr Khan in Pakistan and abroad have been identified which he failed to establish from which source of income he acquired. His two front men — Umar Farooq and Umair — are accused of tampering with the record of Park View Housing Society and benefiting him millions of rupees,” it says.

Aleem Khan is also accused of establishing multiple companies for his real estate business and invested millions of rupees. “In 2005-06, apart from the inland assets, suspect Abdul Aleem Khan established offshore companies in the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. The offshore companies acquired assets of extensive value which are beyond his known sources of income,” the reference draft says.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2020