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Sunday April 14, 2024

Accountability court indicts Imran, Bushra in £190m case

NAB has initiated probe against Imran Khan, his wife regarding alleged acquisition of hundreds of canals of land

By Shabbir Dar
February 27, 2024
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf founder Imran Khan and his spouse Bushra Bibi. —AFP/APP/File
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf founder Imran Khan and his spouse Bushra Bibi. —AFP/APP/File

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan and his spouse Bushra Bibi were indicted on Tuesday by an accountability court in Rawalpindi in the £190 million settlement case.

Judge Nasir Javed Rana of the accountability court held the hearing at the Adiala jail, where the PTI founder is being held in connection with the cases pertaining to Toshakhana, cypher and unlawful marriage.

The charge sheet was read by the accountability court judge while Khan and Bushra were present in the courtroom.

Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi, deputy prosecutor for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and his team also made an appearance in court.

The NAB had initiated an investigation against Imran Khan, his wife, and others regarding the alleged acquisition of hundreds of canals of land under the name of Al Qadir University Trust, resulting in a reported loss of 190 million pounds to the exchequer.

During the hearing today, the court said that statements of 58 witnesses will be recorded in the case.

The judge asked the PTI founder if he was guilty or not while framing charges against him.

At this, Khan said: "Why should I read the charge sheet when I know what's written in it?"

Both Khan and his wife then denied the charges against them.

At this point, Khan came to the rostrum and said that they didn't want a delay in this case. "NAB was in a hurry before February 8, now we want a quick conviction."

The judge then asked if he had his teeth checked, to which the PTI founder replied in the negative, saying that he was told the doctor would visit the jail on Sunday.

"Now the jail administration is saying that the doctor would come next week," he added.

The court then approved Khan's petition seeking a general physician and dentist for his medical examination and dental check-up.

Later, PTI's counsel said that copies of references have to be provided seven days before the indictment, adding that these documents hold importance in relation to this case.

"We have filed a petition to share the copy of the documents," he added.

Meanwhile, NAB's deputy speaker said that all records of witnesses' statements will be provided to Khan and Bushra Bibi's lawyers.

The hearing was then adjourned on March 6 and the court also ordered five witnesses of NAB to attend the hearing.

The £190 million settlement case

The PTI founder is facing charges of corruption of billions of rupees in a case involving a property tycoon.

Khan — along with his wife Bushra Bibi and other PTI leaders — is facing a NAB inquiry related to a settlement between the PTI government and the property tycoon, which reportedly caused a loss of £190 million to the national exchequer.

As per the charges, Khan and other accused allegedly adjusted Rs50 billion — £190 million at the time — sent by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) to the Pakistani government as part of the agreement with the property tycoon.

They are also accused of getting undue benefit in the form of over 458 kanals of land at Mouza Bakrala, Sohawa, to establish Al Qadir University.

During the PTI government, the NCA seized assets worth 190 million pounds from a property tycoon in Britain.

The agency said the assets would be passed to the government of Pakistan and the settlement with the Pakistani property tycoon was “a civil matter, and does not represent a finding of guilt”.

Subsequently, then-prime minister Khan got approval for the settlement with the UK crime agency from his cabinet on December 3, 2019, without disclosing the details of the confidential agreement.

It was decided that the money would be submitted to the Supreme Court on behalf of the tycoon.

Subsequently, the Al-Qadir Trust was established in Islamabad a few weeks after the then-PTI-led government approved the agreement with the property tycoon.

Zulfi Bukhari, Babar Awan, Bushra, and her close friend Farah Khan were appointed as members of the trust.

Two to three months after the cabinet’s approval, the property tycoon transferred 458 canals of land to Bukhari, a close aide of Khan, which he later transferred to the trust.

Later, Bukhari and Awan opted out as the trustees. That trust is now registered in the name of Khan, Bushra Bibi and Farah.

NAB officials were earlier probing the alleged misuse of powers in the process of recovery of “dirty money” received from the UK crime agency.

Following the emergence of "irrefutable evidence" in the case, the inquiry was converted into an investigation.

According to the NAB officials, Khan and his wife obtained land worth billions of rupees from the property tycoon, to build an educational institute, in return for striking a deal to give legal cover to the property tycoon’s black money received from the UK crime agency.