Wednesday May 29, 2024

Dar to get back confiscated assets only on surrender

By Tariq Butt
November 30, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The properties of Ishaq Dar and over Rs500 million lying in his bank accounts will be released after he will surrender and appear before an Accountability Court of Islamabad that is trying him on the charge of possessing assets beyond means.

“After the accused appears before the court and informs it about the reasons, medical or any other, for his constant nonappearance, it generally releases the confiscated assets and bank accounts,” former National Accountability Bureau (NAB) deputy Prosecutor General Raja Aamer Abbas told The News when contacted for his opinion.

He said the primary purpose of the stringent action ordered by the court was to force the accused to become part of the proceedings so that the reference reaches its logical conclusion. “The present court order of seizure of properties and bank accounts is not permanent.” Dar has been in London for several months now in connection with his medical treatment. He has been declared absconder by the court for his absence.

Aamer Abbas explained that the accused will have to approach the court on his return for release of his seized assets. The former finance minister’s wife, Tabassum, who is not an accused in the present reference, he said, has already done so pleading that the Gulberg Lahore house was in her name and was gifted to her by her spouse way back some thirty years back.

The lawyer said the court will see whether the house was gifted when the accused held the public office and Dar will have to justify the legal means by using which he had purchased it. The court will also examine the sources of income of the lady.

Dar’s wife has approached the accountability court for the release of her residence saying that her husband had verbally gifted the property to her on Feb 14, 1989 in lieu of her dower amount. She said that since she had accepted the gift and was residing there, the NAB had erroneously shown it as his asset. Despite repeated urgings by Judge Muhammad Bashir, the NAB prosecutor has not filed reply saying it is not yet ready.

To a question, Aamer Abbas said the NAB should immediately submit its response to the plea of Dar’s wife. The delay, he said, is being caused to unnecessarily prolong the case.

Another lawyer said that the courts normally release the confiscated assets once the accused joins the judicial process. Similarly, if an accused is sentenced in absentia, his conviction goes after he becomes part of the court proceedings, he said.

As per the NAB report, the government has confiscated Dar’s bank accounts holding more than Rs500.8 million. The Punjab government has seized the ex-finance minister’s house in Gulberg 3, Lahore. However, his six acres of land in Malot, Islamabad, was sold before the investigation into the present case began. Dar’s house was also raided to take legal custody of his vehicles but none was found.

The instant reference against Dar and three cases against ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt. (R) Muhammad Safdar were filed by the NAB in September last year on the directions of the Supreme Court contained in the Panama judgment.