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Zahid Bukhari, lawyer for real estate Malik Riaz in the Arsalan-Riaz graft case.—AP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Zahid Bokhari, counsel for real estate tycoon Malik Riaz, has insisted that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) can take up the Arsalan Iftikhar case, DawnNews reported.

Speaking to the media representatives outside the Supreme Court, Bokhari gave the example of the ‘Double Shah’ scam, which was also probed by NAB. Terming the NAB chairman’s position that the graft case involving the chief justice’s son did not fall under the bureau’s purview was a misapprehension, Bokhari said, adding that it was up to the attorney general to decide if NAB should investigate the case or not.

Earlier on Thursday, NAB chief Fasih Bokhari had said in a statement: “The Arsalan Iftikhar case is between two individuals and it has no financial implications on the national exchequer. It seems that it does not come under the NAB Ordinance, 1999.”

However, he had ordered his legal team to look into the matter and said that if any complaint in his regard was registered with the bureau it would be dealt with under the NAB law.

Property tycoon Malik Riaz had accused Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, of receiving Rs340 million from him on the promise of getting cases pending in the apex court settled in his favour and in favour of Bahria Town. The Supreme Court on Thursday announced its short order on the suo motu notice taken on the issue.

The apex court had said in its order: “It is our expectation that he (Attorney General Irfan Qadir) will set the machinery of the State in motion so that all those who may have committed any illegal acts, including Malik Riaz Hussain, Dr Arsalan, Salman Ali Khan etc. are pursued and brought to book with the full force and rigour of the law.”

Qadir had said during an earlier hearing that the case came under the ambit of Section 18 (4) of the NAB Ordinance. He had said that the NAB could start inquiry into the case under Section (9) of the ordinance, dealing with income beyond means.

A source in the NAB had told Dawn that the bureau would not act against Riaz because a number of its senior officials were reluctant to do so. It had been alleged that the NAB chairman himself was appointed on Riaz’s recommendation. The NAB confirmed on Friday that some of its officials in Rawalpindi had suggested that ‘no further action’ should be taken against the Bahria Town’s former chairman.

The ‘Double Shah’ scam was one of Pakistan’s biggest financial frauds originating in Wazirabad, Gujranwala district and Sambrial district in the Sialkot region during 2005-07. The perpetrators had indulged in parallel banking system at the individual level by unlawful collection of deposits. The case was investigated by NAB.