ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Wednesday reserved a decision on plea to return Park Lane reference against former president Asif Ali Zardari under an amendment in the accountability law.
Judge Nasir Javed Rana heard arguments on an application filed by Mr Zardari.
Advocate Farooq H. Naek, appearing on behalf of Mr Zardari, argued before the court that the amendments to National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) introduced in 2022 ousted the National Accountability Bureau’s jurisdiction in such matters.
When Judge Rana pointed out that the reference could not be returned to NAB in the light of observations of the Islamabad High Court in a fraud case, Mr Naek argued the IHC decision couldn’t be applied to this reference, as it was “a case of amnesty scheme and tax”.
NAB prosecutor Usman Masood argued that Park Lane company had received a loan worth Rs1.5 billion, which later increased to Rs2.8bn, from a joint venture of the National Bank of Pakistan and Summit Bank.
Advocate Naek claimed NAB had overlooked all the financial laws in the said reference. He argued that NAB could not have proceeded in this matter without the mandatory approval of the reference from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
He said prima facie it was a case of willful default and the SBP was the competent forum to initiate proceedings, but NAB took a solo flight and proceeded in this matter on its own in violation of the relevant provisions of financial laws.
Mr Naek claimed Mr Zardari had no nexus with the private entities that obtained loan from Summit Bank, adding that the bank had already filed a civil suit for the recovery of the loan.
Mr Zardari has been accused of being involved “in extending loan and its misappropriation by M/s Parthenon Private Limited, M/s Park Lane Estate Private Limited and others”.
Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2023
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