NAB seeks assets details of ex-PM’s cabinet members

ISLAMABAD: The National Account­a­bility Bureau (NAB) has sought details of vehicles sold and purchased by 22 members of ex-prime minister Imran Khan’s cabinet as it expands the scope of the investigation into the Al-Qadir Trust case.

The Punjab Excise and Taxation Department has been asked to provide details of vehicles registered under the ex-cabinet members’ names.

According to the source, the assets of the former cabinet members were being checked as part of the probe into the Al-Qadir Trust case.

The former cabinet members belonged to PTI — some of whom quit the party after the May 9 violence — and its allies bet­ween 2018 and 2022 when the party was in power.

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They are Asad Umar, Shireen Mazari, Pervez Khattak, Fawad Chaudhry, Hammad Azhar, Azam Khan Swati, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, Babar Awan, Omar Ayub Khan, Shafqat Mahmood, Faisal Vawda, Murad Saeed, Ali Amin Khan Gandapur, Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Khusro Bakhtiar, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Zubaida Jalal, Ijaz Ahmad Shah, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Muhammad Farogh Naseem, Muhammad Soomro and Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan.

The anti-graft watchdog issued a letter to the provincial excise department, informing that NAB Rawalpindi was conducting an investigation against the 22 former cabinet members on the allegations of corruption and corrupt practices under the provisions of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

“In view thereof, you are requested to provide the details/ copies of certified documents of any vehicles’ sales/purchase during the period of Jan 2018 till date in the name of the following persons by June 20, 2023,” the letter said.

According to NAB spokesperson Kashif Zam­an, the letter was issued a few days ago but did not specify the exact date.

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On May 9, the bureau arrested ex-PM Khan over the alleged illegal acquisition of land and construction of Al-Qadir University and extending benefits to the real estate tycoon and Bahria Town owner, Malik Riaz, by legalising Rs50 billion that was identified and returned by the UK during his government.

The PTI chief’s arrest from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) premises by paramilitary forces in the case sparked countrywide protests, during which several public and private properties, including military installations, were vandalised.

NAB had already summoned Mr Khan’s wife, Bushra Bibi, ‘as a witness and not as an accused’ on June 7.

Mr Khan also appeared before the investigation team at NAB’s Rawalpindi office on May 23 where he was grilled for about four hours.

When Mr Khan was asked about the money received from the UK, he stated, “It got deposited after conversion into PKR in the account opened in the name of Registrar Supreme Court of Pakistan…[if] the amount transferred constitutes ‘illegitimate amount’ and that Bahria Town is the beneficiary, thereof, it is indeed strange that till date you appear not to have taken any punitive measures against the owners of BTLK [Bahria Town] or applied to the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan for the recovery of the said amount on the ground that it is illegitimate money.”

He stated that since he was not aware of the settlement between the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Malik Riaz, he relied upon the briefing of Shahzad Akbar that “the amount was to be repatriated to Pakistan against the liability of respondents [Bahria Town].”

He also questioned the credibility of the probe, pointing out the accountability watchdog’s failure to take action against the Bahria Town owner.

Many of the 22 cabinet members facing the investigation have also told NAB that an agreement between UK’s National Crime Agency and the PTI government was presented before them in a sealed envelope during a cabinet meeting.

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They claimed that the approval was given without seeing the contents of the document.

Fawad Chaudhry, who was science and technology minister in 2019, told NAB that he had not seen an “agreement” presented before the cabinet in a sealed envelope.

Similarly, Sheikh Rashid — the Awami Muslim League chief and an ally of the PTI in government — said he had not attended “that cabinet meeting”, where the settlement with NCA was approved.

In his response to NAB, the former minister added that he had “strained relations” with ex-accountability czar Shahzad Akbar and was “not even on talking terms with him”. Moreover, former federal minister Faisal Vawda even claimed that ex-ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed was the “architect” and the mastermind of the case.

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