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June 14, 2018

Dar’s case: NBP president tells SC he was pressurised by NAB


June 14, 2018

ISLAMABAD: National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) President Saeed Ahmed has claimed before the Supreme Court that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had pressurized him to become approver against Ishaq Dar in assets-beyond-means case, or else he would be made co-accused in the case.

NBP president who has filed a petition against NAB in the Supreme Court of Pakistan has submitted an affidavit and claimed in his statement that NAB has found no evidence of his involvement in the opening and operation of the bank accounts. Even the NAB’s own forensic report has proved that signature of Saeed Ahmed had been forged.

On February 26, 2018, Lahore NAB Director Amjad Aulakh called Saeed Ahmed and interviewed him on telephone. During the telephonic interview Mr Aulakh warned Saeed that he has only two options, either to become an approver in this case or else he will be charged as co-accused and there is no third option. However, Mr. Saeed refused to become an approver against Dar after which NAB added his name as co-accused in the case.

After failing to collect any conclusive evidence against Mr Saeed in the assets beyond means case of Ishaq Dar, NAB included his name as co-accused on the basis of assumption. The NAB believes that Mr Saeed has been rewarded lucrative posts including Deputy Governor State Bank and then President National Bank of Pakistan just because he rendered his services for the opening and operation of these accounts.

Earlier on Wednesday counsel for NBP president read out the statement of Saeed Ahmed before the accountability court. According to this statement, the applicant attended all the inquiry/investigation scheduled by NAB communicated through summons/notices and his reply to each question by the investigation team to their satisfaction but suddenly on 22 February 2018 (Thursday) he received a call from NAB Lahore with the instructions to come to Lahore on 26th February 2018, there was scheduled meeting for considering the annual accounts of NBP. This inability was communicated but the NAB personnel insisted for visit anyhow they conducted the interview on telephone. This conversation continued for 15 minutes. For the sake of ready reference and to point out the reason of applicant as an accused is self-explained therefore the relevant conversation is placed below for ready reference.

“On Thursday 22/2/2018 I received a phone call from Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, Deputy Director NAB Lahore. He asked me to come on the following Monday 26/02/2018 to NAB Lahore as they wanted some clarifications regarding account opened in my name in relation to Mr Dar reference (assets beyond means). I told him that there is a Board of Directors Audit Committee meeting on Monday 26 February where NBP’s final accounts for year ending 2017 would be discussed and finalised. Due to this I told him that it won’t be possible for me to attend the meeting. He told me that it would be helpful if I went.

On Sunday I weighed the situation and considering that there is no formal notice received regarding NAB meeting of Monday 26 February and also considering that annual accounts for NBP will have to be finalised in which my presence as CEO is crucial and the meeting cannot be postponed, I had no choice but to stay in Karachi”, says the statement.

“During the NBP board audit committee meeting in Karachi on 26 February about 4 pm I received a phone call from Amjad Aulakh, the Director NAB Lahore who told me that he was with the deputy director Mr Ahsan Iqbal and Assistant Director and IO Mr. Nadir and wanted to talk. He asked me as why I didn’t attend the meeting in Lahore. I replied and stated the reason of the Audit Committee meeting. He said that he had been told about it by the Deputy Director and showed understanding”, reads the statement.

As per the statement, “Mr Aulakh said that after they sent report from NAB Lahore to their Head Office in Islamabad, their legal department had asked for more information. NAB ISB seemed of the view that my status as prosecutor witness is not acceptable to them. I needed to be dealt with either approver or an accused. Mr Aulakh said that he wanted to ask some questions regarding accounts opened in my name at AlBarkah Bank. I told him that these accounts were opened while I was abroad and NAB had forensic test done to confirm that signature at account opening forms do not match my signature. I never operated these accounts, never deposited or withdraw any funds. I have no beneficial interests in these accounts. No transactions had been done for me or on my behalf. He said that’s the case but he wanted to know when I came to know about these accounts opened in my name, when Mr Imran Khan, leader of PTI made speech in which he accused me of opening accounts to facilitate some illegal activities. IK claimed in return I was appointed as Deputy Governor State Bank of Pakistan. I was in Jeddah when IK made the claim. After these allegations made by IK, I was approached live by telephone by some channels to get my views on the allegations. I stated that I am willing to go through any investigation to clarify the situation. If I had known about these accounts, I would not have given such a strong rebuttal. Mr Aulakh acknowledged that I had provided press reports about rebuttal which are on NAB records”.

The statement further says, “I was rewarded by Mr Dar who is my childhood friend by appointing my deputy governor SBP due to this favour of letting my accounts be used. Mr Aulakh said there are many actuaries around in Pakistan. He questioned why they had not been made DG SBP or made President NBP. I replied that there are a few actuaries in Pakistan as it is very highly regarded profession. I emphasised if my appointment was to be considered as a reward, why it had to wait for nearly 20 years after opening of the accounts that it had to materialise”.

“He then said that I had told them that I came to know about the opening of the accounts in 2001 when I came to see Ishaq Dar after he was released from custody. I said that I came to know that he had signed some confession to get released from the prison and not about the accounts. Mr. Iqbal and Mr. Nadir joined Mr. Aulakh to say that this was how it had been recorded with them during one of my earlier interviews that I knew about the account when I came to see Mr Dar after his release in 2001. I said that perhaps there was some confusion or misunderstanding and that they should check. I reiterated that I actually came to know about the accounts and the questionable use as claimed by IK in April 2016. Mr Aulakh said that NAB suspects and thinks that despite of the signature not matching and I being outside Pakistan when these accounts were opened and operated, I had known about these and been involved in the operation of these accounts. I refuted their claims but they asked me to become approver which would make it easy for me and help them in the case. I was warned that if I didn’t agree to be an approver,

I will be charged and accused. No details as to what be the nature of the charge would be, revealed. I told them that I won’t lie even to save myself, let alone implicate myself by being an approver in something of criminal nature for which I do not know have any knowledge. I told them that even if I become an approver and lie to facilitate that, how would I face my maker”, claims Mr Saeed in his statement.

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