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May 29, 2018

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Allegations against NBP chief contradict NAB’s own report

President National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Saeed Ahmed. 

ISLAMABAD: The NAB forensic report submitted to the accountability court in assets case against former finance minister Ishaq Dar has proved that the signatures of President National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Saeed Ahmed had been forged.

Official documents available with The News reveal that the NAB’s allegations contradict its own forensic report that says the signatures of applicant do not tally and forged signature have been used to open these bank accounts.

The forensic examination of bank account opening documents was conducted by the NAB Deputy Director Muhammad Naseem and submitted to the NAB HQ on December 29, 2017.

A brief analysis of assets reference, the JIT report, Supreme Court’s order in Panama case and the statements of the accused and facts of the NAB’s own investigation report reveals that the NAB had ignored very basic realities in the supplementary reference. NAB Special Prosecutor Imran Shafeeq contended that since the nominated co-accused had long association with the main accused Ishaq Dar and because they were working along with him in Hajveri Modaraba Management (Pvt) Ltd Company and as bank accounts were open in their names, thus they might have assisted and abetted the accused in mounting illegal assets.

In support of their allegations against Saeed Ahmad, Imran said he was one of directors along with the main accused in Hajveri Modaraba Management and had long association with him.

It further alleged that seven bank accounts were opened in the name of Saeed Ahmad in the years 1997, 1998 and 1999 which were closed in 1999, 2000 and 2002 respectively.

It was claimed that an amount of Rs482, 848,648 and $4,060,985 was transferred through these bank accounts to the advantage of Ishaq Dar and his dependents.

On the contrary, Saeed Ahmad was of view that the investigator ignored the fact that as per record available with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Saeed Ahmad was appointed as Director in Hajveri Modaraba Management (Pvt) Ltd Company on July 10, 1991. He resigned on September 12, 1991.

The SECP record further tells that he was reappointed as director in place of Masood Akhtar on February 2, 1992 and served as director till June 5, 1995. Over his retirement from the directorship, he transferred his 90,000 shares to Hajveri Holdings.

It needs to be observed that the alleged fake accounts were opened in 1997 and 1998, at least two years after his end of directorship when Saeed was living abroad and was having no say or influence in the company as director. Also, the NAB’s allegations are in contradiction with its own forensic report that says that signatures of applicant do not tally and forged signatures were used to open these bank accounts.

The forensic examination of bank account opening documents was conducted by NAB’s Deputy Director, Muhammad Naseem and submitted to NAB HQ on December 29, 2017. Thus, it is obvious that the offence was made by the person who forged the documents and apply fake signatures.

The NAB prosecutor pointed out that these bank accounts were operated by a number of employees of Hajveri Modarba Management Company, including the co-accused Mansoor Rizvi and Naeem Mehmood.

He also admitted that these bank accounts were never operated by Saeed Ahmad. The additional reference alleged that the co-accused Naeem Mehmood, one of the Director and General Manager, Finance in Hajveri Modaraba facilitated the opening of these fake accounts and was also an introducer for one such bank account.

The third co-accused, Syed Mansoor Raza Rizvi, who was working in the accounts department of First Hajveri Modaraba, facilitated the operation of these bank accounts through receipts, cheque books and withdrawals pertaining to bank accounts in the name of co-accused Saeed Ahmad, cited the reference.

There was no mention of any role of Saeed Ahmad in the opening of these accounts or if he has ever reap any financial benefit out of these accounts. There are also mentioning of two fake foreign currency accounts opened on December 28, 1994 and October 7, 1997. These accounts were closed on March 3, 2006 and December 16 1997.

It is also pertinent to mention here that the foreign current accounts are protected under the Protection of Economic Reforms Act 1992 and there were no legal bar on transfer of money through bank accounts.

Saeed Ahmad expressed his ignorance of these bank accounts and their usage for transfer of amounts. According to his statement, he fist came to know about these accounts through the media on April 16, 2016.

The reference included no hard evidence to oppose his claim, but further alleged that Saeed was appointed Deputy Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and then President National Bank of Pakistan; therefore, it should be assumed that he might have rewarded for keeping silence about these bank accounts.

According to Mr. Saeed, he was invited by the government in December 2013 to head the Steering Committee, constituted for the promotion and developing a roadmap for Islamic finance in the country. Furthermore, he said, during his tenure as Deputy Governor, the SBP declared as the best central bank of the world for promoting Islamic banking in 2015 and again in 2017. Moreover, despite passing of considerable period, no violation of rules and regulation were reported in his appointment as deputy governor and President NBP.

The NAB’s prosecutor concluded in the reference that the role of Saeed Ahmad can be safely termed illegal omission, which amounts to aiding and abetting the main accused for perpetuating ill-gotten wealth.

The oxford dictionary defines the word “omission” as something neglected, left out, or left undone unconsciously and there is no mention of word “illegal omission” in law dictionary.

Legal experts are of the view that the case would have been more logical if it had made allegations of forgery against persons who opened fake accounts in the name of Saeed Ahmad.

The additional reference does not have any discriminatory evidence or suggests any direct or indirect nexus of Saeed Ahmad with the alleged assets beyond known source of income of Ishaq Dar and hence the NAB prosecutors are facing difficulty in court to prove the allegations.

The judge has dropped Section 9(a) (iv) of NAO from the charge list, pertains to charges of corruption and corrupt practices.

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