• Ex-PM blames former aide Akbar for ‘confidential’ deal
• PTI chairman, spouse get pre-arrest bail till May 31; ATC extends bail in eight cases

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan, who is facing proceedings before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case, on Tuesday questioned the credibility of the probe, pointing out the accountability watchdog’s failure to take action against Bahria Town owner Malik Riaz.

Mr Khan made these remarks in his response to a call-up as he along with his spouse, Bushra Bibi, joined the proceedings in the Al Qadir Trust case at NAB Rawalpindi’s office. In a written reply, Mr Khan also shifted responsibility on his former accountability aide Shahzad Akbar for making a secret deal with the property tycoon.

According to the reply, it was a misconception that the retrieved amount of £190m was not deposited in the national treasury. NAB grilled Mr Khan for about four hours at its office and asked him to bring records along at the next hearing. Sources said that the reply of Mr Khan was also termed “unsatisfactory” by NAB officials.

In his response about the money received from the UK, Mr Khan stated, “It got deposited after conversion into PKR in the account opened in the name of Registrar Supreme Court of Pakistan…[if] the amount transferred constitutes ‘illegitimate amount’ and that Bahria Town is the beneficiary, thereof, it is indeed strange that till date you appear not to have taken any punitive measures against the owners of BTLK [Bahria Town] or applied to the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan for the recovery of the said amount on the ground that it is illegitimate money.”

He stated that since he was not aware of the settlement between the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Malik Riaz, he relied upon the briefing of Shahzad Akbar that “the amount was to be repatriated to Pakistan against the liability of respondents [Bahria Town].”

He said that the issue did not come under discussion in the cabinet.

“Shahzad Akbar got the deed of confidentiality approved from the cabinet on Dec 3, 2019. However, I am not aware of any other deed of confidentiality that may have been signed by SAPM Shahzad Akbar on Nov 06, 2019. As regard the allegations that in the deed of confidentiality stately signed on Nov 06, the designated account for adjustment of liability of BTLK was malafiedly intimated to the NCA UK for transfer of funds instead of repatriation of the recovered amount to the State of Pakistan, in order to give and obtain material benefit, I reiterate that I am not aware of any deed of confidentiality… nor was I privy to or have participated in providing any designated account to the NCA for repatriation of the funds from UK to the state of Pakistan.”

The bureau shared relevant documents with the PTI chairman and directed him to submit the record along with the details at the next hearing.

Bail till May 31

Accountability judge Mohammad Bashir granted pre-arrest interim bail to Mr Khan in this case till May 31. Lawyer Khawaja Haris informed the court that Bushra Bibi also sought bail in this case.

On query, a NAB prosecutor told the court that the NAB chief issued arrest warrants for Mr Khan while only a call-up notice was issued for Bushra Bibi. The judge granted them interim bail against Rs0.5 million surety bonds each.

It may be mentioned that, unlike his routine appearance in the courts where he used to appear along with the charged crowd before the May 9 riots, the PTI chief reached the judicial complex along with his spouse Bushra Bibi and a handful of lawyers. He was also looking perturbed; however, he explained the reason for his anxiety was that he was concerned for the safety of his party workers.

In its case against Mr Khan, NAB has alleged that the PTI government led by Imran Khan had struck a deal with Malik Riaz that caused a loss of more than $239m to the national exchequer, in a quid pro quid arrangement with the real estate business.

In December 2019, Britain’s National Crime Agency accepted a settlement offer of £190m, which included a UK property — 1 Hyde Park Place, London, W2 2LH. It was valued approximately at £50m and all of the funds landed in the frozen accounts of Malik Riaz.

Meanwhile, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) extended the pre-arrest bail of Mr Khan in eight cases registered against him for violence during his appearance in the judicial complex on March 18 and Feb 28.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2023

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