KARACHI: An accountability court on Thursday issued a notice to the prosecutor on fresh applications seeking pre-arrest bail to former federal finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and five others booked in a reference pertaining to alleged $11.125 million illegal payment to a Kuwait-based firm for the launching of an ‘automated customs clearance service’ in the Federal Board of Revenue without a formal agreement in 2005.

Accountability Court-VI Judge Tasneem Sultana directed the NAB prosecutor to advance arguments on the bail pleas on October 22.

The judge also issued a notice to the prosecutor on the applications moved by the suspects seeking transfer of the present reference to any other relevant court following an amendment to the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

In May this year, the incumbent court had granted interim pre-arrest bail to Mr Sheikh and other suspects against a surety of Rs100,000 each without touching the merits of the case, special public prosecutor Zahid Hussain Baladi told Dawn.

However, the prosecutor said, after the Supreme Court recently ruled that every suspect facing graft allegations should individually apply for bail “on merits, as corruption is a non-bailable offence”. Therefore, the suspects applied for the bail afresh, he added.

In April, the NAB had filed reference nominating the then finance minister Mr Shaikh, FBR’s former chairmen Salman Siddique and Muhammad Abdullah Yousuf, then collector customs Azhar Majeed Khalid, Additional collector customs Aashir Azeem Gill, then Member IMS Aamir Zaffar Chaudhery, deputy controllers Muhammad Irfan Sarfaraz and Bassam Khoury, and the managing director of Agility (formerly Public Warehousing Company of Kuwait), as proposed accused.

The court had already separated the case against the foreign national, Bassam Khoury, after NAB failed to arrest him and declared him absconder.

The federal anti-graft watchdog said an anonymous complaint was received against Mian Azhar Majeed Khalid, the then collector, Model Customs Collectorate, and Aashir Azeem Gill, the then additional collector, regarding alleged illegalities committed during the procurement and implementation of the ‘Pakistan Automated Customs Clearance Service (PACCS)’ pilot project. An inquiry was authorised which was subsequently converted to investigation on Aug 17, 2019.

Legal notice

A grade-14 inspector of the District Municipal Corporation-South Anwar Hussain has sent a legal notice to the Sajjan Union leader Syed Zulfiqar Shah claiming Rs30 million in damages for allegedly getting published a “false, baseless and fabricated” news in the media against him using the name of All DMC South Action Committee.

Advocate Munaf Memon stated in the legal notice dated Oct 3 that his client “worked honestly and the DMC-South never received any complaint against him in his long career”.

Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2022

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