NAB orders probe against corruption in 56 Punjab govt companies


–Justice (r) Javed Iqbal says no company will be asked to stop operations until accountability watchdog finds sufficient evidence against them


ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal on Saturday ordered an extensive investigation into the alleged corruption in at least 56 companies functioning under the Punjab government.

The NAB chairman issued the orders after taking notice of corruption cases and unlawful appointments in 56 public limited companies working under the Punjab government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

According to Justice (r) Iqbal, NAB was consistently receiving complaints of corruption and misuse of resources; hence a thorough investigation into the affairs of these companies was ordered.

However, Justice (r) Iqbal gave clear instructions that none of the companies should be stopped from functioning during the investigation until sufficient evidence against them was collected.

A corruption case of Rs80 billion regarding corruption in the companies of Punjab is already underway at the Lahore High Court (LHC).

The court has sought a reply from the provincial government regarding the case, while notices have been issued to the heads of the companies and parties as well.

Earlier, the NAB chairman reportedly said that the NAB is presently examining all cases of offshore companies, including those unearthed by the Panama Papers to ensure across-the-board accountability.

Justice Javed Iqbal said that he was presently studying the cases of offshore companies to see what wrong had been done.The mere opening of an offshore company was not illegal, he said, explaining that only those who had misused such companies would be proceeded against. He said that NAB had to first determine what crime had been committed.

When the newly-appointed NAB chairman was asked if the Panama Papers probe by NAB would also go beyond Nawaz Sharif and his family, he said, “Yes, I am presently examining cases of all offshore companies.”

“There will be no pick and choose policy but across-the-board accountability,” he assured, adding that NAB is not an institution to be used either for victimisation or for politics. Although, the Panama Papers had named over 400 Pakistanis owning offshore companies, during the last one and a half years only the cases of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children have been probed following the orders of the apex court.