Govt justifies Asif’s arrest, shares details of ‘wrongdoings’

Published January 3, 2021
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar addressing a press conference in Islamabad with Special Assistant to the PM on Youth Affairs Usman Dar. — PID
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar addressing a press conference in Islamabad with Special Assistant to the PM on Youth Affairs Usman Dar. — PID

ISLAMABAD: As the opposition continues to protest over the arrest of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Mohammad Asif, the government on Saturday explained that he had been arrested after his failure to cooperate with officials concerned in valid investigations.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar said Mr Asif had failed to satisfy the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Speaking at a press conference along with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Usman Dar, he said Mr Asif had assets worth Rs5.1 million in 1993 and the PML-N leader had no proof of Rs2.2m monthly income he received from the UAE.

Mr Akbar said the PML-N leader claimed that he was given the salary in cash whenever he was asked about transfers from his salary account. “Mr Asif does not even have a pay slip of his income,” he added.

The PM’s adviser claimed that Mr Asif started this job when he held the portfolio of the defence minister. He asked the PML-N leader why he was not working in the UAE now as he was no longer a federal minister.

PM’s adviser claims PML-N leader is not cooperating with NAB investigators

Mr Akbar said Mr Asif acted like a magician when he purchased a plot in a housing society in Gujranwala in September 2014 for Rs8 million and sold it back to the same housing society for Rs40 million just after a month. He said there was no legitimate reason for the whole episode, but it was comprehensible because Mr Asif was a minister at that time.

He said Mr Asif claimed to have sold a plot adjacent to his house in Sialkot for Rs125 million. According to the sale deed the amount was received through a cheque and a probe revealed that the serial number of the cheque book was in fact issued three months after the sale deed was signed. He claimed that the plot was still in Mr Asif’s possession.

According to the adviser, Tariq Mir and Company, which is owned by Mr Asif says that it is involved in the business of rice export. The company received an amount of Rs150 million from Dubai-based Poorvi Enterprises FZE, but rice against this amount was not exported from the country, he added.

Sharing details of grounds for the physical remand, he said Mr Asif had as many as 48 bank accounts in his name and in the name of his family members with transactions of over Rs1.4 billion.

He said the accused had cash deposits of Rs223 million in his personal bank account in addition to Rs140 million in his bank account in Dubai. A running finance account saw transactions of over Rs500 million from 2007 to 2018, all cash deposits, he added.

Mr Akbar said the same pattern was adopted for alleged money laundering by many other PML-N leaders, including Ishaq Dar and members of the Sharif family.

He said Mr Dar had allegedly used the identity of a Bahraini national, Siddique, to launder $18 million and had accepted that the person’s passport had been given to him by Shehbaz Sharif.

He said the Sharif family had allegedly used the Chaudhry Sugar Mills for money laundering and illegal transfer of its shares, using the name of UAE business tycoon Nasser Lootah.

He claimed that Rs800 million was transferred to the bank account of Maryam Nawaz by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. There are transactions of billions of rupees in fake accounts. When a public office holder has unexplained wealth, it means bucks have been made out of corruption and corrupt practices. “It is a legitimate presumption”, he remarked.

Speaking on the occasion Usman Dar said it was unreasonable for a person holding an important portfolio, like defence minister, to work for a foreign-based company.

He said the agreement with the Dubai-based company showed that Mr Asif was required to work eight hours a day for the company with a leave of one month each year, which proved the job was a sham to justify ill-gotten wealth.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2021

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