Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Tuesday accused former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi of accepting Rs5 billion and hundreds of kanals of land from Bahria Town in return for "providing protection" to the real estate firm in a money laundering case during the PTI government.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Sanaullah said Bahria Town had "illegally transferred" Rs50bn to a Pakistani national in the UK. The transfer, he said, was identified by the UK's National Crime Agency, which subsequently informed the then PTI government of the crime.
Sanaullah claimed that Imran, the prime minister at the time, had tasked Shehzad Akbar, ex-PM's aide on accountability, to resolve the matter. Akbar "settled" the entire case, while the Rs50bn — which was state property and belonged to the national treasury — was adjusted against Bahria Town's liability, the interior minister alleged.
He said the former prime minister accepted a graft of Rs5bn as "his share" through Akbar before the case was wrapped.
Sanaullah said the federal cabinet has formed a sub-committee to investigate the scandal and deal with it as per the law.
"The case did not just end here. Bahria Town, after its Rs50bn was protected by the government, entered an agreement and allotted a 458-kanal land with an on-paper value of Rs530 million to a trust owned by Imran and his wife," he claimed.
Bahria Town donated the land to Al-Qadir Trust, with the agreement bearing signatures of the real estate developer's donors and Bushra Khan — the wife of former premier Imran, Sanaullah alleged.
He said the non-profit organisation had only two trustees: Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi.
The minister said that another 240 kanals were transferred to "Farah Shehzadi" — commonly known as Farah — a close friend of Bushra Bibi.
He said the nation's wealth was "looted and the then-first lady signed the documents without any fear".
"Why did Bahria Town transfer 458-kanal land to the Trust and 200-kanal land in Bani Gala to Farah Shehzadi," he questioned.
He said the impression created by [PTI leaders] was that the land was meant for the construction of a university, but said that no charter for any varsity was approved by the Punjab Assembly.
"The cabinet has now made the document public and an inquiry will be conducted into it before the investigators proceed further," the minister said.
The UK's NCA had in December 2019 agreed to a settlement worth £190 million with the family of property tycoon Malik Riaz — the founder of the Bahria Town.
The NCA had said it accepted an offer of a staggering £190mn from the family of Riaz after a months-long investigation into property and accounts connected to them.
"The £190 million settlement is the result of an investigation by the NCA into Malik Riaz Hussain, a Pakistani national, whose business is one of the biggest private sector employers in Pakistan," the agency had said in a statement.
The NCA had accepted a settlement offer of £190 million, which included a UK property – 1 Hyde Park Place, London, W2 2LH – valued at approximately £50 million and all of the funds in the frozen accounts of Riaz.
The first record of the NCA’s move to probe the property and assets belonging to Riaz in the UK surfaced in December 2018, shortly after the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) came to power. The crime agency in a press release dated Aug 14, 2019 stated: “The NCA has been granted freezing orders on eight bank accounts containing a total of more than £100 million, which is suspected to have derived from bribery and corruption in an overseas nation. Approximately £20m held by a linked individual was frozen following a hearing in December 2018.”
Earlier that year in March, a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed had accepted a Rs460 billion offer by Bahria Town to implement the court’s judgement which held that the grant of land to the Malir Development Authority by the Sindh government, its exchange with the private land of the developer and anything done under the provisions of the Colonisation of Government Land Act, 1912 by the provincial government were illegal and of no legal existence.