ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Monday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for property tycoon Malik Riaz, aides to then-PM Imran Khan, Zulfi Bukhari and Mirza Shahzad Akbar, and three others in connection with the 190 million pound corruption reference.

The others against whom the warrants were issued by accountability judge Mohammad Bashir during the hearing, held in Adiala Jail in connection with a case related to Al Qadir University, were Ali Ahmed Riaz, son of Malik Riaz; Farhat Shahzadi aka Farah Khan, and a lawyer Ziaul Mustafa Nasim.

According to the reference filed before the accountability court last week, Shahzad Akbar had on Dec 2, 2019, presented a note to then-PM Imran Khan which revealed that on the application of National Crime Agency, UK, an account freezing order (AFO) was granted by the district judge of Westminster’s Court.

The AFO pertained to 20m pounds. Ear­lier on Aug 12, 2019, the NCA had obtained eight AFOs in relation to 119.7m pounds held in accounts of Malik Riaz’s family. The NCA investigation also included 1 Hyde Park Palace, London, a prime property valued at approximately 50m pounds.

Property tycoon’s son, Zulfi Bukhari, Farah Khan among other suspects; NAB has already issued warrants for Imran

The reference put the estimated combined value at 190m pounds. It alleged that in April 2019, Bahria Town extended illegal monetary benefit to Mr Khan in the shape of land measuring 458 kanals, 4 marlas and 58sqft, through Mr Bukhari, “disguised under the garb of donation of Al Qadir University Project Trust for which Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi was the settler/founder and Bushra Imran Khan was the trustee”.

The reference alleged that Mr Khan and Mr Akbar connived with each other to give legal cover to 171.15m pounds transferred to Malik Riaz. NAB has already issued warrants for Mr Khan, Mr Akbar, Mr Bukhari and Ms Khan.

Further hearing in the matter was adjourned to Dec 6.

Central role

The reference reads, “Mr Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, the former prime minister of Pakistan played a pivotal role in illicit transfer of funds meant for the state of Pakistan into an account designated for the payment of land by Bahria Town, Karachi.”

It said, “Few participants who appe­ared during the investigation revealed that when discussion in the agenda was started by the members, accused No. 1 Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, chairing the cabinet meeting, intervened to grant approval without further discussion upon which the agenda was approved.

“In exchange, for these illegal favors…Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi obtained ma­­t­e­­rial monetary gain, including a so-cal­led donation of approximately 458 kanals of land, funds amounting to Rs285m, in kind of contribution to Al Qadir Unive­r­sity Project,” the reference alleged.

Mr Akbar has been accused of misusing his position as chairman, Assets Recovery Unit (ARU), for extending undue benefit to Malik Riaz.

The reference alleged that Mr Nasim aided, abetted and assisted Mr Akbar in the commission of offence.

The reference stated that Malik Riaz “in his capacity as the CEO/Director of Bahria Town (Private) Limited, actively aided, abetted and assisted in conspiracy with the co-accused persons for the diversion of funds earmarked for the state of Pakistan into a bank account designated for the payment of Bahria Town Limited, Karachi”.

The reference accused Ali Ahmed Riaz of conniving with his father, Mr Khan and Mr Akbar and transferring 240 kanal [and] 6 marla land in the name of Farah Gogi.

The reference accused Mr Bukhari of being a “front man” of Imran Khan.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2023

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