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February 8, 2019

Aleem remanded to NAB for nine days

Top Story

February 8, 2019

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Thursday showed displeasure with the National Accountability Bureau officials and the federal government for not producing Shahbaz Sharif in the court, and directed NAB to produce the accused on Feb 18 at any cost for his indictment in the Ashiana-e-Iqbal housing scam.

Also the same court remanded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Aleem Khan in the National Accountability Bureau’s custody for nine days in assets beyond means case.

Shahbaz Sharif was due to be produced in the court on Thursday for his indictment. However, the Pakistan Muslim League-N president, who is on judicial remand, did not attend the hearing due to some medical reasons and a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in Islamabad.

The other accused in the case, Lahore Development Authority ex-director Ahad Khan Cheema, and former principal secretary to ex-PM Nawaz Sharif, were present in the court. As the hearing commenced, judge Najamul Hassan asked about the accused, Shahbaz Sharif. The police stated that he could not be produced as he was unwell and he had also to chair a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in Islamabad. The NAB prosecutor said it was not Bureau’s but police’s responsibility to produce the accused in the court.

It annoyed the judge further, who remarked that the police were just protectors, and it was the federal government which was responsible for it. The judge asked who allowed Shahbaz Sharif to stay in Islamabad, adding that the accused was not granted the right to skip the court hearing on medical grounds. The counsel for Shahbaz Sharif stated that Shahbaz Sharif was suffering from backbone problem, and he could not travel long distances as per his doctor’s advice.

His statement added to the anger of the judge, who responded saying Shahbaz Sharif’s medical report was fine, and it seemed that continuous bed rest had deteriorated his health. Why not summon be issued to the doctor to inquire about the report, asked the judge. The judge remarked that the accused was supposed to be indicted in the Ashiana case on Thursday, but he skipped the hearing.

On this, the counsel for Shahbaz replied that there was no such order given by the court. The judge said the accused would be indicted on the next hearing, falling on Feb 18, and warned that the court could issue orders beyond summons, in case of his (Shahbaz’s) absence on that hearing.

The court ordered NAB to produce the accused on the next hearing even if they had to arrange an air ambulance for him. Thursday was a hard day for NAB officials, as they had to face judge’s anger over not filing reference in Ramzan Sugar Mills case also.

The court asked NAB prosecutor why the Ramzan Sugar Mills reference had not been filed yet, and inquired about the status of the reference. The prosecutor informed the court that a reference had been sent to NAB chairman for approval and would be filed soon.

The judge directed NAB to file the reference on February 18 and adjourned the hearing. Also, Accountability Court Judge Najamul Hassan Thursday granted nine-day physical remand of PTI leader and former senior minister Punjab Aleem Khan to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in assets beyond means case.

NAB officials produced the accused before the court amid tight security. NAB prosecutor implored the court for granting physical remand of the accused, arguing that the Bureau had to investigate him regarding assets beyond means.

Aleem Khan’s counsel, Azhar Siddique Advocate opposed NAB’s plea arguing that the Bureau arrested his client in a matter related to Park Avenue housing society, which was illegal. He said NAB had summoned his client in an inquiry related to an offshore company. As per Section 18 of the NAB Ordinance, no inquiry was authorised by NAB against his client in Park Avenue society. He argued that in the last many years, NAB had issued 14 notices to his client and all were replied and his client appeared before the Bureau for five times.

He further argued that all money trails had been provided to the Bureau and it had made an illegal arrest.

However, the court remanded Aleem in NAB custody for nine days. The court directed NAB to produce the accused again on February 15, along with investigation report. As per details, NAB claimed that the accused, being the secretary Parkview Cooperative Housing Society, a member of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab and Minister for Information Technology, held the public office as defined in Section 5(m)(iii) & (iv) of NAO,1999 and during the said period accused had been involved in the acts of corruption and corrupt practices as defined under Section 9(a) of NAO,1999 by way of accumulating assets beyond known sources of income within Pakistan and outside.

Moreover, the accused established multiple companies with the purpose of real estate business and invested millions of rupees. The accused bought more than 900-kanal land in different Mauzas of Lahore in the name of his company M/s A&A Pvt Ltd, and also paid for the said investments, NAB added.

NAB further stated that in year 2005 and 2006, apart from the inland assets, accused Abdul Aleem Khan established offshore companies in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and United Kingdom (UK). The said offshore companies acquired assets of extensive value which were beyond known sources of income of the accused.

The NAB stated that the arrest of the accused was necessary as it was likely that he might tamper with the prosecution evidence through coercion, criminal inducement and criminal intimidation. Moreover, arrest of accused was needed to unearth other assets which accused might hold in his ownership or in the ownership of his Benamidar and for the collection of evidence and concluding the inquiry/ investigation in accordance with the law.

Moreover, it has learnt that Aleem is also facing inquiries related to Parkview Housing Society, River Age Housing Society, and properties at Multan Road. In January, 2018, NAB had sought the record of offshore companies reportedly established in Panama and other tax havens abroad by Aleem Khan and PML-Q's Chaudhry Moonis Elahi.

A Mutual Legal Assistance report related to Khan's case was provided to NAB Lahore in January 2019 after which he was summoned for February 6 and arrested after he failed to satisfy the investigators.

Earlier, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) finalised strategy to investigate former president and President of Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Omni Group and other accused in multi-billion fake bank accounts scam.

NAB Chairman Justice (R) Javed Iqbal chaired a high-level meeting on Thursday which was attended by NAB Prosecutor General, DG Operations, Rawalpindi NAB DG and other senior officers.

It may be recalled that the NAB chairman had constituted a Combined Investigation Team (CIT), headed by DG NAB Rawalpindi Irfan Mangi in pursuant of the judgment of Supreme Court of Pakistan.

It had also been decided that the NAB chairman would himself supervise CIT, which had started workings as per law and the meeting held on Thursday reviewed the preliminary report of fake accounts case, besides analysing progress in various cases.

The meeting devised a comprehensive strategy and constituted various teams and some teams were asked to record statements in light of evidence from Karachi and some have been assigned work at NAB headquarters.

The meeting discussed transferring fake accounts case under 16-A from Banking Court Karachi to Accountability Courts Islamabad.

Chairman NAB Justice (R) Javed Iqbal directed to implement judgement of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in letter and spirit by using all resources as per law. He said that NAB believes in taking the investigations to its logical conclusion in light of law and concrete evidence.

He urged media to kindly avoid speculations regarding fake accounts cases. The Supreme Court of Pakistan in his judgement on fake bank accounts scam has directed the NAB to wrap up its investigation within two months.

Meanwhile, it is to be mentioned here that Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur filed a review petition on January 28 against the Supreme Court decision in the fake bank accounts case with pleading that the Supreme Court admitted that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) could not furnish substantial evidence.

The review appeal further stated that the apex court’s decision commits an error in holding that the constitution of the JIT is a valid exercise of jurisdiction in aid of a lawful object.

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