SC asked to look into NAB’s ‘weak’ supplementary reference in Ishaq Dar’s case

  • NBP president says investigation comprises surmises and conjectures

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has failed to include the names of most relevant persons and filed a comparatively weak add-on reference in the assets beyond income case against former federal minister Ishaq Dar, Pakistan Today has learnt.

In an application filed by National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) President Saeed Ahmad in the Supreme Court (SC), it was said that the NAB had included the names of individuals, including him, in the case simply because of their relationship with main accused Ishaq Dar and for the reason that their identities were stolen to open fake bank accounts.

It said that the bureau was probing these persons on the basis of surmises and conjectures only, whereas persons who had a direct connection and business interests with Ishaq Dar, including Javed Kiyani, Kashif Masood Qazi, Sheikh Saeed and Musa Ghani, were excluded from the investigation despite the fact that the SC had directed to include these individuals in the proceedings as their bank account were used with their consent for the transfer of ill-gotten money, it said.

The application is filed to challenge Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) verdict that rejected a petition of Saeed Ahmad against a supplementary corruption reference moved by NAB.

NAB’s Special Prosecutor Imran Shafiq contended that since the nominated co-accused have a long association with Ishaq Dar, and because they were working along with him in Hajveri Modaraba Management (Pvt) Ltd Company and the bank accounts were opened in their name, they might have assisted and abetted Dar in mounting illegal assets.

In support of their allegations against NBP President Saeed Ahmed, accused Imran Shafiq said that he was one of the directors along with absconding accused Ishaq Dar in Hajveri Modaraba Management (Pvt) Ltd Company and has a long association with him.

It was further alleged that seven bank accounts were opened in the name of Saeed Ahmed in the years 1997, 1998 and 1999. These accounts were respectively closed in 1999, 2000 and 2002.

It was also claimed that an amount of Rs483 million and $4 million was transferred through these bank accounts to the advantage of Ishaq Dar and his dependents.

Conversely, Saeed Ahmed was of view that the investigator ignored the fact that as per the record available with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), he was appointed as director in the Hajveri Modaraba Management (Pvt) Ltd Company on July 10, 1991, and resigned from the directorship on September 12, 1991.

The SECP record further tells that he was re-appointed as director in place of Masood Akhtar on February 2, 1992, and served till June 5, 1995. Over his retirement from the directorship, he transferred his 90,000 shares to Hajveri Holdings.

It is pertinent to mention that the fake accounts were opened in 1997 and 1998, at least two years after Saeed Ahmad’s retirement when he was living abroad and was having no say or influence in the company as its director. Also, the NAB’s allegations were in contradiction to its own forensic report that said that the signatures of the applicants do not tally and forged signatures were used to open these bank accounts.

The forensic examination of bank account opening documents was conducted by NAB Deputy Director Muhammad Naseem and submitted to NAB HQ on December 29, 2017.  The offence was, therefore, made by the person who forged the documents and used fake signatures, and the person whose identity was stolen should not be included among the accused.

The NAB prosecutor pointed out that these bank accounts were operated by a number of employees of Hajveri Modaraba Management (Pvt) Ltd Company, including the co-accused Mansoor Rizvi and Naeem Mehmood. He also admitted that these bank accounts were never operated by Saeed Ahmad.

The additional reference alleged that co-accused Naeem Mehmood, one of the director and general manager of finance in the company, facilitated the opening of these fake accounts and also introduced one such account. The third co-accused, Syed Mansoor Raza Rizvi, who was working in the accounts department of the company, facilitated the operation of these bank accounts through receipts, chequebooks and withdrawals pertaining to bank accounts in the name of co-accused Saeed Ahmad.

There was no mention of any role of Saeed Ahmad in the opening of these accounts, or if he ever reaped any financial benefits from them. There was also a mention of two fake foreign currency accounts opened on December 28, 1994, and October 7, 1997. These accounts were closed on March 3, 2006, and December 16, 1997.

It is also pertinent to mention here that the foreign currency accounts are protected under the Protection of Economic Reforms Act 1992, and there was no legal bar on transfer of money through them.

Saeed Ahmad expressed ignorance of these bank accounts and their usage for transfer of money.

Imran Shafiq concluded in the reference that Saeed’s role can be safely termed as illegal omission, which amounts to aiding and abetting the main accused of perpetuating ill-gotten wealth.

The additional reference does not have any discriminatory evidence, neither does it suggest any direct or indirect nexus of Saeed Ahmad with the case.

Despite repeated attempts, NAB Spokesperson Nawazish Ali wasn’t available for comments.