Ali Riaz bought Banigala land for Farah, Islamabad court told

Published April 14, 2024
This file photo shows Farah Khan. — DawnNewsTV
This file photo shows Farah Khan. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: A prosecution witness in the £190 million corruption reference has testified before an accountability court that Ahmed Ali Riaz Malik, son of property tycoon Malik Riaz, bought a piece of land for Farhat Shahzadi, also known as Farah Khan, in Banigala.

Testifying before the court last week during the jail trial of former prime minister Imran Khan and his spouse Bushra Bibi, a patwari of Circle Mohra Noor (Banigala) said: “The land measuring 240 kanals, six marlas situated at Moza Mohra Noor was transferred from the name of Bahria Town through Ahmed Ali Riaz Malik, son of Malik Riaz Hussain, in the name of Farhat Shahzadi.”

The witness also produced certified copies of 14 mutations through which the land was transferred in the name of Bahria Town from different landowners.

The official testified that “the land measuring 100 kanals, one marla was transferred in the name of Farhat Shahzadi against the consideration of Rs250,125,000 while the land measuring 100 kanals, five marlas was transferred in the name of Farhat Shahzadi for the consideration of Rs250,625,000… the land measuring 40 kanals was transferred in the name of Farhat Shahzadi for the consideration of Rs32,000,000”.

Prosecution witness in £190m graft reference says names of Imran, his wife not mentioned in land transfer

The witness, however, stated that “as per record, the names of accused Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi and Bushra Imran are not mentioned there as witnesses or in any manner whatsoever”.

According to Imran Khan’s counsel, Khalid Yousaf Chaudhry, the statement of the prosecution witness exonerated the former premier and his spouse from the corruption charges.

It may be mentioned that Farah Khan is an absconder in this case.

As per the reference filed in the accountability court, Shahzad Akbar, another absconder, had on Dec 2, 2019 presented a note to then PM Imran Khan, which revealed that on the application of UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), an account freezing order (AFO) was granted by the district judge of the Westminster’s Court. The AFO pertained to £20m.

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

The reference put the estimated combined value at £190m. It alleged that in April 2019, Bahria Town had extended illegal monetary benefit to Imran Khan in the shape of land measuring 458 kanals, four marlas and 58 square feet through Mr Bukhari, “disguised under the garb of donation to 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 transferred to Malik Riaz.

The National Accountability Bureau has already issued warrants for Imran Khan, Shahzad Akbar, Zulfi Bukhari and Farah Khan.

“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,” read the reference.

It added: “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 favours…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.”

Shahzad Akbar is accused of misusing his position as chairman of the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) for extending undue benefit to Malik Riaz.

The reference alleged that lawyer Ziaul Mustafa Nasim aided, abetted and assisted Mr Akbar in the commission of the 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 Ahmed Ali Riaz of conniving with his father, Imran Khan and Shahzad Akbar and transferring 240 kanals, six marlas land in the name of Farah Khan. It also accused Mr Bukhari of being a “front man” of Imran Khan.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2024

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