LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has summoned the managing director of a United Arab Emirates-based company in which parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Khawaja Muhammad Asif worked for 14 years as a legal adviser, seeking the foreigner’s statement for his (Asif’s) prosecution in the court in the income beyond means case.
The anti-graft body arrested the former foreign minister in this case last month and he is currently under its custody at the Thokar Niazbaig office here on physical remand.
In a call-up notice to Elias Salloum, managing director of International Mechanical and Electrical Company (IMECO), Abu Dhabi, UAE, NAB said: “During inquiry proceedings accused Khawaja Muhammad Asif has claimed that he was Iqama (work permit) holder in UAE from 2004 to 2018 and remained an employee of your company (IMECO) as legal advisor/consultant. Asif has further claimed Rs136million as salary income from said employment. He also submitted a photocopy letter issued by you showing your willingness to appear before any forum regarding his claim of employment.”
Seeks details of PML-N leader’s Iqama agreement
NAB asked Mr Salloum to appear before a combined investigation team at its Lahore office on Jan 28. “You are requested to bring the following record — M/S IMECO’s incorporation/registration documents with UAE authorities, certified financial statements from 2004 to 2019 filed with the UAE authorities, attested copies of claimed job/Iqama agreement of Khawaja Asif from 2004 to 2017, including documents containing termination of Iqama and a brief job description and tasks accomplished by Asif while working with IMECO.”
NAB said as per the claimed Iqama agreement, the employee had to work for the company (IMECO) within the UAE and there would be one-day rest in a week. However, in this case the employee (Asif) did not join office on a regular basis in violation of Iqama agreement, but claimed receipt of salary. “You (Salloum) are required to provide an explanation of this violation of Iqama agreement, mode of payment of salary to Asif. Also provide IMECO’s bank account statements, bank vouchers/cheques showing payment of salary to him.”
NAB’s preliminary investigation has also revealed that Khawaja Asif made transactions of millions of shares with 10 companies during the last 10 years. “Accused Asif was confronted with the record provided by JS Global Limited, a private brokerage firm. The accused replied that he was not able to provide details of investments, how payments were made and amount of investment made by him.
“Before assuming the public office in 1991, the total worth of Khawaja Asif’s assets was Rs5.1 million which increased to Rs221m in 2018 after serving on different posts which do not match with his known sources of income,” NAB said and also alleged that Khawaja Asif was also running a benami firm “Tariq Mir and Company” which was registered in the name of his employee. It said that an amount of Rs400m was deposited in the account of Tariq Mir and no sources of this huge amount were disclosed.
PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz had strongly reacted to the arrest of Khawaja Asif and declared that her party would not accept this and hold protest demonstrations in this regard. The 11-party Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had also announced holding protests outside NAB offices, but it is yet to materialise its warning.
Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2021