RAWALPINDI / LAHORE: An accountability court in Rawalpindi sentenced Mian Khurram Rasool, former media coordinator to the prime minister, to four-year imprisonment on Thursday and declared him an absconder in a Rs71 million bank fraud case.
However, a special court for banking offences in Lahore granted him interim bail hours after a division bench of the Lahore High Court had denied him protective bail for not appearing before the court.
Accountability court Judge Jahandar Khan Banth announced the sentence under Section 31-A of the NAB Ordinance and rejected a request by Khurram Rasool’s brother Shahid Mehmood for giving him time to settle the matter.
The court observed that until an absconder surrendered himself nobody could appear on his behalf.
It also sentenced Rehan Sheikh, Mohammad Tariq, Syed Husnain Haider and Nasir Mumtaz Naqvi, officials of the bank who had processed the loans, and Khurram Rasool’s manager to four-year imprisonment.
Mr Mehmood’s counsel Amjad Iqbal Qureshi infirmed the court that the accused was ready to surrender and was making arrangements to return the loan on which he had defaulted.
The counsel said he had cleared two loans and was trying to repay the one he had taken about four years ago.
He said the accused had also approached the Lahore High Court but for some reason had withdrawn the petition for protective bail and the LHC had dismissed the case as withdrawn.
He said that since the accused was ready to appear before the LHC the NAB court could not proceed with the case under Section 31-A.
He said a banking court in Lahore had already granted bail to Khurram Rasool in the case.
Mr Qureshi told Dawn that Mian Khurram had taken loans of Rs71 million, Rs10.2 million and Rs10 million from then NIB Bank which declared him a defaulter on the Rs71 million loan.
The national Accountability Bureau started proceeding against him in 2009.
He said the accused had returned Rs60 million to settle the defaulted loan, but the bank had cleared the other two loans on which he had not defaulted.
He said the accused had gone abroad to arrange money but the court had declared him a proclaimed offender and now when he was ready to appear he had been declared an absconder and sentenced.
Advocate Qureshi said Mian Khurram Rasool might surrender in a couple of days and reach a settlement with the bank.
In Lahore, banking offence judge Amjad Pervez granted him pre-arrest bail till Feb 2 subject to the furnishing of bonds worth Rs1 million. The judge also summoned the case record from the Federal Investigation Agency on the next hearing.
In the morning, an LHC bench headed by Justice Sheikh Najamul Hassan had dismissed his petition for protective bail.
Advocate Noor Mohammad Jaspal represented him and pleaded that he could not appear before the court because NAB officials would arrest him. He alleged that his client was facing political vicitimisation.
“You should know that in such cases personal appearance of the petitioner / accused is mandatory,” the judge said.
The counsel sought permission to withdraw the petition, but the bench dismissed it.
NAB has accused Mian Khurram Rasool and other accused of fraudulently opening fake letters of credit and receiving Rs71.938 million, causing a loss to the defunct PICIC (now NIB Bank).
He is also a prime accused in a case about liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) quota fraud and the Supreme Court has ordered the FIA and Interior Minister Rehman Malik to arrest him by Friday.