Wednesday October 27, 2021

Verdict on NAB plea for freezing Durrani’s assets to be announced on October

September 21, 2021
Verdict on NAB plea for freezing Durrani’s assets to be announced on October

An accountability court on Monday reserved its order on an application moved by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) seeking freezing of assets and accounts worth Rs1.6 billion owned by Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani and his family.

Pakistan People’s Party leader Durrani along with his family members, friends and servants have been facing a trial for procuring assets beyond known income allegedly through corruption.

In May earlier this year, NAB had requested the court to freeze Durrani’s and his family’s assets, which include properties, vehicles, gold jewellery and expensive watches worth Rs1,610,669,528 till the disposal of the trial.

After hearing the arguments on the application from the defence and the prosecution, the accountability court-III judge, Dr Sher Bano Karim, fixed October 11 for pronouncement of the verdict on the application.

Meanwhile, NAB also produced a prosecution witness, Azhar Hussain Tanwari, who is the district election commissioner for Badin, for recording his statement. The witness produced official records, including the election nomination form filed by the Sindh Assembly speaker at the time of the elections and assets declared by him between 2010 till 2018.

However, the defence counsel pointed out that the witness had submitted photocopies of the relevant official documents instead of bringing the original ones. Therefore, after partially recording his statement, the judge directed Tanwari to appear on the next hearing for further recording of his statement and bring the original documents.

In November 2020, the court had indicted Durrani and 18 others, including his wife Naheed, son Shahbaz, daughters Sanam, Sonya, Shahana and Sara, brother Agha Masihuddin, Zulfiqar Dahar, Shamshad Khatoon, Munawar Ali, Ghulam Murtaza, Muhammad Ifran, Shakeel Soomro, Gulbahar Baloch, Aslam Langah, Tufail Shah, Mitha Khan, Muhammad Shah and Gulzar Ahmed, for allegedly colluding in corruption.

NAB maintained that Durrani could not account for a difference of over Rs1.6 billion between his declared total income from 1985 to 2018 and the assets, including properties, vehicles and others valuables, in his, his family’s, dependants’ and benamidars’ names that surfaced during the investigation.

Along with the reference, the anti-graft watchdog attached a list of 27 declared and undeclared assets, including properties, investments and vehicles, in Durrani’s and family’s name and stated that they valued Rs479.4 million but the accused showed them as worth Rs151.6 million.

Furthermore, NAB showed Durrani as the beneficiary of seven benami properties, six of which were in DHA and one in Malir, worth over Rs1 billion, that were allegedly purchased in the name of his servants. The bureau added that six of these properties were sold to different people while one was still in his possession.