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$4.9 bn money laundering allegation: NAB in the soup as columnist not joining probe

By Usman Manzoor
May 27, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The columnist on whose write-up the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had initiated an inquiry against ex-Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif for allegedly laundering $4.9 billion to India has not joined investigation so far, bringing embarrassment to the anti-corruption watchdog.

Well-placed sources in the NAB headquarters maintain that an Urdu daily columnist Muhammad Tauseef ul Haq Siddiqui had not so far joined the probe despite NAB’s requests.

The controversial inquiry not landed the Nab chairman in an awkward situation, but also compelled the World Bank to issue a rebuttal.

The NAB spokesman, however, claims that the columnist may join the probe next week.

Earlier this month, the NAB issued a press release stating that a probe had been started against Nawaz Sharif for allegedly laundering $4.9 billion to India in 2016, inviting criticism from all over the world.

The next day, the NAB issued another press release saying that the inquiry was initiated on the column of Tauseef ul Haq Siddiqui published in an Urdu daily in February this year.

The bureau further said the issue was at the complaint verification stage, as the columnist had mentioned a World Bank report. The World Bank had rejected the claim that its two-year-old report on remittances levelled $4.9 billion money laundering allegations against Nawaz Sharif. “There have been media reports citing the World Bank’s Remittances and Migration Report of 2016. These media reports are incorrect,” according to the World Bank.

It added that the World Bank’s Remittances and Migration Report was an effort to estimate migration and remittances numbers across the world.

“The report does not include any mention of money laundering nor does it name any individuals,” according to the WB handout. Nawaz has also served a legal notice of Rs1 billion on the NAB chairman for defaming him without proof.

Sources in the NAB say at the initial stage, the complainant is requested to provide all the relevant information but in the instant case the columnist has not joined the investigation.

“He has refused to become part of investigation so far,” the sources maintained.

Talking to The News, NAB spokesman Asim Ali Nawazish said: “NAB Rawalpindi has called him for joining the complaint verification in writing during next week. He will join complaint verification on the date and time he has been asked.”