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October 13, 2017



Illegal assets case: Witnesses cross-examined in Ishaq Dar case

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court (AC) on Thursday recorded the statements of two prosecution witnesses in a corruption reference filed against Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar.

The reference has been filed for amassing assets beyond known sources of income. Dar remained in the court for eight hours. Senior Vice President Al-Barka Islamic Bank, Gulberg, Lahore, Tariq Javed, and an officer of the National Investment Trust (NIT) Shahid Aziz recorded the statements.

Khawaja Haris, legal counsel for Ishaq Dar, also completed the cross-examination. The thrust of his argument was on the authenticity of documents produced by the prosecution witnesses. He pointed out several discrepancies, questioning the authenticity of documents.

Shahid Aziz told the court that Ishaq Dar had invested Rs120 million and received 155million with Rs35 million as dividend. The court will indict Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain (R) Muhammad Safdar, as a bench of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday disposed of Captain (R) Safdar's petition challenging indictment. During the last hearing in the Ishaq Dar case, Bank Alfalah account manager Ishtiaq Ali had recorded his testimony.

During cross-examination, Dar's counsel had also objected to the authenticity of documents. 

On Friday, there were no stringent security arrangements around the accountability court.

Minister for Privatisation Daniyal Aziz, Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunication Anusha Rehman, Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Law Barrister Zafarullah Khan accompanied Dar during the court proceedings.

Finance minister Dar offered Zohar prayers inside the courtroom.

Prosecution witness Tariq Javed told the court that his organisation received an email from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) seeking record of Ishaq Dar and his family members account. However, he could not produce the same email before the court. Defence counsel Khawaja Haris asked him to bring that email and then he will conclude his cross-examination.

Tariq Javed told the court that on August 17 he took bank record about the account details of Ishaq Dar's wife Tabbassum Dar and details of some company accounts to the NAB Lahore office.  He further told the court that his bank asked him to appear before the court in the case. Javed's testimony was interrupted due to some missing, misplaced, incorrectly numbered pages and photocopies produced as evidence along with the original documents.

Dar's counsel objected to the authenticity of documents produced by the witness and said the same were not admissible because these were not produced in line with the banking laws and law of evidence.  The NAB prosecution team at many points tried to assist the witness that irritated the AC judge.

At one point, he asked the prosecution to record the testimony in place of witness. After inquiring the witness whether he himself prepared and certified these documents and receiving his reply in the negative, Dar's counsel said the documents were not produced by the person who certified them.   The NAB prosecution team, however, said that under the Electronic Transaction Ordinance, 2002, the documents were admissible as the ordinance had overriding effect on laws.  Tariq Javed told the court that there was no account of Dar and his children in the bank. During cross-examination of the second witness Shahid Aziz, Khawaja Haris adopted before the court that record related to the account of Ishaq Dar at the NIT had been tempered with.  He pointed out that there were several discrepancies in the original and photocopy of the documents. 

On Dar's investment forms submitted to the NIT in 2015, there was overwriting on documents and these carried different stamps of two cities, Lahore and Islamabad.

Shahid Aziz told the court that NIT keeps the original form, while a carbon copy was sent to Karachi. He said the photocopy submitted to the court on Wednesday was sent to him by the Karachi office.  He said that after receiving the original as well as photocopies of documents from Karachi office he sent photocopies to the NAB Lahore.

The court asked if a carbon copy was prepared from the original document then why the photocopy was different from the original document.  Shahid Aziz replied that it was a routine mistake and there was no change in the amount mentioned on the form. Dar's counsel however termed it tempering. Shahid Aziz said there was no irregularity and illegality in payment of dividends and its re-investment and Capital Gain Tax was deducted and no undue payment was made to Dar.  He added that the amount was received for purchase of NIT units through proper banking channel by way of cross cheques.

Just like Tariq Javed, Shahid Aziz also submitted that neither he prepared these documents nor filled and signed them. Judge Muhammad Bashir observed that Benamdars should also be put on notices. He should come to know that his property is under discussion in the court.

Dar's counsel Khawaja Haris said that there was no such property and if there were any evidences then the court may summon the Benamdars.