A Rawalpindi accountability court on Saturday declared property tycoon Malik Riaz, former special assistants to the premier Mirza Shahzad Akbar and Zulfi Bukhari, and three others as proclaimed offenders in the reference filed in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case.

The others named in the reference include Farhat Shahzadi, a close friend of PTI chief Imran Khan’s spouse, legal expert for the PTI government’s Assets Recovery Unit Ziaul Mustafa Nasim and Ahmed Riaz.

Accountability judge Mohammad Bashir resumed hearing into the corruption reference related to Al-Qadir University in Adiala jail. On a previous hearing on Dec 6, the court had issued a proclamation against the six for not joining the hearing of the £190 million corruption case.

The investigation officer recorded his statement regarding the suspects in today’s hearing.

The National Accou­n­t­a­bility Bureau (NAB) had filed the reference against PTI chief Imran Khan and seven others, including his wife Bushra Bibi, in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case.

The case alleges that Imran and Bushra Bibi obtained billions of rupees and land worth hundreds of kanals from Bahria Town Ltd for legalising Rs50 billion that was identified and returned to the country by the UK during the previous PTI government.

The reference filed by NAB alleged that Imran, who is currently in jail, played a “pivotal role in the illicit transfer of funds meant for the state of Pakistan into an account designated for the payment of land by Bahria Town, Karachi”. It also claimed that despite being given multiple opportunities to justify and provide information, the accused deliberately, with mala fide intention, refused to give information on one pretext or another.

The reference

The reference said the “accused […] were given multiple opportunities to justify and provide information, but they deliberately, with malafide intention, refused to provide the information on one or the other pretext.

“Furthermore, it is established through their responses that they have nothing in their defence to rebut the above-mentioned allegations. Thus, they all have committed an offence” under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).

It added that the investigation proceedings and findings so far “established that accused persons in connivance with each other have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices” as defined under the NAO.

The reference said Imran played a “pivotal role” in the illicit transfer of funds which were meant for the state which ultimately benefited Riaz.

Akbar, a former special assistant to the premier and Asset Recovery Unit chief, played a “crucial role” in the “illegal design of the funds” which were meant for the state, the reference said.

Malik, the reference said, had “actively aided, abetted and assisted and acted in conspiracy” with the other respondents for the diversion of funds earmarked for the state.

Bushra Bibi and Shahzadi also played a “significant” and “crucial” role in the “illegal activities”, the latter also a “front woman” for Imran and his wife, it said.

The reference said that it was “just and proper” to proceed against the eight suspects as there was “sufficient incriminating evidence” available to justify the reference.

It pleaded that the eight suspects be tried and punished in accordance with the law by the court or any other to which the reference was entrusted.

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