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April 28, 2021

Fake accounts case: NAB files reference against Zardari on graft of Rs8.3 bn

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April 28, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has filed another reference in the ongoing fake accounts probe against former president Asif Ali Zardari, accusing him of corruption of Rs8.3 billion.

The reference has been filed at an Accountability Court in Islamabad in which Zardari and his stenographer Mushtaq Ahmed have been named as the accused. According to the reference, an illegal transaction of Rs8.3 billion was carried out via Mushtaq Ahmed's bank account with the money paid to a private housing society — located in a posh area of Karachi — to purchase properties. The reference states that the properties belong to Zardari.

The accused named in the reference, Mushtaq Ahmed, worked as a government employee from 2009 to 2013 in the President House. He was recruited as a stenographer at the request of Senator Rukhsana Bangash. Mushtaq, who is currently said to be in London, remained at the centre of the fake accounts JIT investigation, officials familiar with the probe told Geo News.

A third accused in the case, Zain Malik, already signed a plea-bargain with the NAB and deposited around Rs9 billion to the national exchequer.

Investigators, who spoke to Geo News, believe that Mushtaq Ahmed, who has been serving Zardari for 15 years, fled the country on April 3, 2015, via Karachi's Jinnah International Airport to Dubai, as he came under the radar of the authorities for possession of a large amount of assets.

Mushtaq never filed his annual returns with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), according to the investigation. Immigration records of both Zardari and Mushtaq suggest that they went on around 104 trips abroad together in the last ten years.

The last time Zardari and Mushtaq travelled together was on February 25, 2015, to the United Arab Emirates, the investigation revealed further. According to the records of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and the immigration staff, both Zardari and Mushtaq had registered Zardari House in Islamabad as the address on their CNICs.

Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, who is the spokesman of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said the party's legal team — headed by Farooq H Naek — is pleading the fake accounts case. "The matter is under investigation and the party has also been facing cases in the past, so it will continue to face them now as well," Khokhar said. "We have been emerging triumphant against the courts," he added.