ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday filed a reference against Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in the Accountability Court, which summoned Deputy Chairman of the Senate Saleem Mandviwala on Feb 4 in connection with a case about alleged illegal allotment of plots.

Accountability judge Mohammad Bashir also summoned former managing director of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Aijaz Haroon in the same case.

NAB has filed the first-ever reference against Murad Ali Shah for “misuse of authority”. He is accused of using his influence and releasing funds for some power projects in violation of the rules.

The reference against the Sindh CM was filed by the NAB’s regional directorate of Rawalpindi.

Accountability court summons deputy chairman of Senate in land case on Feb 4

It alleges billons of rupees’ irregularities in the Nooriabad Power Company and Sindh Transmission and Dispatch Company. Besides the CM, Abdul Ghani Majeed of Omni Group and 16 others have also been nominated accused in the reference.

The Nooriabad Power Project was originally conceived by the Sindh government in 2012, but it could not materialise then due to “red-tapism and delays in regulatory approvals”.

The project was finally launched in August 2014 under public-private partnership mode at a cost of Rs13 billion in which the Sindh government held 49 per cent shares and a private company owned 51pc shares. A 95-km-long, 132kV double-circuit transmission line was laid from Nooriabad to Karachi at a cost of Rs1.95bn.

The NAB reference against Mr Mandviwala is related to Kidney Hills plots allotment. The bureau has nominated Saleem Mandviwala, Nadeem Mandviwala, Aijaz Haroon, Abdul Ghani Majeed and Tariq Mahmood as the accused.

Saleem Mandviwala is accused of having facilitated Aijaz Haroon in selling some government plots to Abdul Ghani Majeed.

According to the reference, Aijaz Haroon received huge sums of money from fake accounts in exchange for the plots. He prepared backdated files of the plots and was helped by Saleem Mandviwala in selling the plots to Abdul Ghani Majeed.

NAB alleges that Saleem Mandviwala and Aijaz Haroon received Rs140 million through fake accounts. From his share, Saleem Mandviwala bought a plot in the name of his front man (benami) and later sold the plot and bought shares in Mangla View Company in the name of another front man.

Hearing adjourned

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) adjourned the hearing till Feb 11 of the petition seeking to quash Park Lane reference against former president Asif Ali Zardari.

An IHC division bench headed by Justice Aamer Farooq heard the petition.

Farooq H. Naek, counsel for Mr Zardari, told the court that his client had challenged the jurisdiction of Islamabad’s accountability court to try him in the case.

Mr Naek said that the matter was pending before the Supreme Court and suggested that till the apex court’s decision, the accountability court might be asked to stop trial proceedings.

Justice Farooq however remarked that it was unlikely if the trial would conclude before the apex court’s judgement. He termed it unfortunate that accountability courts never decided a reference within its stipulated 30-day timeframe.

NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi argued that the prosecution could get testimonies of 10 witnesses recorded in a single day but the defence counsel took several days to cross- examine a single witness.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2021

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