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Thursday December 02, 2021

Allegations of money laundering: New NAB cases against Chaudhrys of Gujrat

By Amir Riaz
July 25, 2020

Allegations of money laundering: New NAB cases against Chaudhrys of Gujrat

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has accused PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi of committing money laundering and accumulating illegal assets.

The wealth of Ch Pervez Elahi and his family members has increased to Rs 4.06 billion while the wealth of Ch Shujaat Hussain and his family members has gone up to Rs 2.55 billion from 1985 to 2018, revealed a reply submitted to the Lahore High Court by the National Accountability Bureau in connection with a petition by the Chaudhry brothers challenging three 20-year-old inquiries against them.

The investigation revealed that the wealth of Ch Shujaat Hussain and his family increased to Rs 2.556 billion. The shareholding of petitioner Ch Shujaat Hussain and his family has increased to Rs 58,487,450 in 2019 from Rs 22,500 in 1985. Further, the family of Ch Shujaat Hussain has acquired properties worth more than Rs 230 million. Ch Shujaat Hussain and his two sons namely Shafey Hussain and Salik Hussain have given a loan amounting to Rs 57,048m to different companies owned by them.

Moreover, foreign remittance of Rs 58,700 million has been received in bank accounts of Shafey Hussain and Salik Hussain since 2004. So far, five remitters have joined the investigation and denied sending any remittance, which prima facie established that the accused used fake identities to route unexplained money from foreign countries to Pakistan, the reply said.

The wealth of Ch Pervez Elahi and his family members has increased to Rs 4.069 billion from 1985 to2018. The shareholding of Ch Pervez Elahi and his family members has increased to Rs 3 billion from 1985 to 2019. Further, the family of Pervez Elahi has acquired properties worth more than 250 million. Moreover, foreign remittance of Rs 978 million was received in the bank accounts of the family of Pervez Elahi since 2004. So far three remitters have joined investigation proceedings and denied sending any remittances, which prima facie established that the accused used fake identities to route unexplained money from foreign countries to Pakistan, the reply added.

The reply said Pervez Elahi, in another inquiry of misuse of authority, was accused of making illegal appointments in the Local Government Board as chief minister of Punjab. The bureau said the inquiries of illegal assets and misuse of authority were never approved for closure by the competent authority and the investigation is being held strictly in accordance with the law. However, it said a third inquiry of willful default was approved for closure by the authority in 2017 for lack of evidence. The NAB asked the court to dismiss the petition of the Chaudhry brothers.

The accused petitioners have been repeatedly asked through call up notices to submit details of assets acquired by them and their family. However, they failed to submit the assets pro-forma and explain huge increase in their and their family’s wealth despite several extensions. The evidence connects the petitioners with offences of corruption and corrupt practices as envisaged under the provision of NAO 1999, the report concluded.

The PML-Q leaders have approached the Lahore High Court, challenging three 20-year-old inquiries against them by the NAB through Advocate Amjad Pervez.

The petitioners, who are an important ally to the government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, argued that the conduct of the bureau and its officials have been judicially noticed by the superior courts of the country in a number of cases. They pleaded that all the three investigations were recommended for closure by the investigating officers and regional board of the NAB during 2017 and 2018.

However, they submitted the NAB chairman approved in 2019 the bifurcation of investigations against them about the allegations of assets beyond means after an investigation spreading over a period of 19 years. They argued that the so called order for the bifurcation was prompted by mala fide intention to contain their (petitioners) role and their party in the political arena.

They claimed that not a single piece of evidence or material was available before the then chairman for authorization of the investigations. They argued that the entire process is in violation of mandatory provisions of the ordinance and therefore are illegal and void ab-initio.

Reacting to the NAB statement, the Chaudhry brothers' spokesman has said the NAB is being used for political engineering, old cases against them are being repeatedly opened and closed. He also questioned that the filer of application is unknown like the reasons for reopening of these cases. It is also not known why the media trial is being conducted while the case is in the court. He said the NAB, in its reply, has not been able to tell about any asset of the Chaudhry brothers, which is beyond their income. There is no mention in the NAB reply of any corruption, kickbacks, misappropriation or misuse of powers. The NAB has itself closed the case of securing loans and getting them written off. The NAB accepted that the Chaudhrys had not secured any wrong loan nor got any loan written off but they are repeatedly closed and opened for political engineering, he concluded.