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ISLAMABAD: National Accountabi-lity Bureau (NAB) Chairman former Justice Javed Iqbal while responding to serious criticism against the NAB Tuesday said that those owning plazas in Dubai were not able to justify their sources of income.

Addressing the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) here, Iqbal said the NAB took the first step and went after people who were “untouchable” until a few years ago, adding that "intimidation, threats or blackmailing" will not affect the NAB's working.

Talking about the services rendered by the NAB in the last few years, he said that the NAB managed to return Rs5 billion stuck-up investment from two housing societies to people in Islamabad/Rawalpindi and Lahore.

He said that during his tenure, the NAB has recovered Rs487 billion and filed 1,235 references in court, but even one percent of these references was not against the business community.

He said that the NAB also recovered billions of dollars from the “king makers”.

He said that the NAB also recovered Rs10-15 billion of wheat theft from one province. He said that the NAB was working only to protect the interests of Pakistan and would never take dictation from any authority nor would it be blackmailed by anyone.

He said that only 25-30 judges were dealing with 1,235 references in the NAB courts and emphasised that the strength of the NAB courts should be increased for speedy trial of corruption cases.

Iqbal regretted that a "sinister propaganda" was being carried out against the body and added: "The only thing that is left to be said is that corona was brought about by the NAB."

The watchdog’s chief vowed the NAB will not be deterred by allegations, since its work related to "the protection of the common man."

"Will no one come forward for a layman's protection in Pakistan?" he asked.

He insisted that the NAB had never humiliated any suspect and also denied accusations that suspects had died in the NAB’s custody, saying that investigation had revealed that the deaths were caused by heart attacks.

Any suspect who is suffering from medical conditions, Iqbal said, is immediately taken to a hospital.

The chairman NAB, while ensuring his organisation’s complete cooperation to the business community, said that the business community was the backbone of the economy and was rendering great service to the country in various shapes from promoting business activities, providing jobs, increasing exports, and bringing foreign exchange to the country.

He added that the NAB would never take any unnecessary action against any member of the business community but only against fraudsters.

He said that the NAB had never asked any businessman about his source of capital and investment except for money laundering cases.

He said that the NAB never stopped any investment project as they were contributing to strengthen the country’s economy.

He said that he has already issued instructions to the NAB authorities that no businessman should be called through telephone to the NAB office nor should be humiliated in any manner.

He said that he had appointed one full-time director each in the NAB HQs and regional offices to deal with the complaints of the business community, but no complaints were sent to them.

He urged that the business community should take advantage of the services of these directors for redressal of their complaints.

He said that the ICCI get the list of cases of the business community and send to him and he would decide them within 30 days except for those cases, which were sub-judice in courts.

He said he was ready to provide a desk of the NAB in the ICCI for better coordination.

He expressed these views while addressing the business community during his visit to Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI).

NAB Spokesman Nawazish Ali Asim also accompanied him.

The chairman NAB said that the corruption watchdog has transferred all tax related and under invoices cases of business community to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and no such case of business community was currently pending with his institution.

He said that if any businessman has any complaint against the NAB, he should approach the director of the concerned area while he was also available on the last Thursday of every month for listening to the complaints of the people.

While sharing his personal ordeal of being a victim of fraud, the NAB chairman revealed that soon after his retirement from the Supreme Court, “I thought of purchasing a plot in one of the housing societies with dramatic advertisement having waterfalls, mosques, tennis courts, gyms, and shopping centres”.

He said that the housing society has made a condition that if anybody is making full payment in one go, there would be no balloting for such clients, adding “I made the payment at once but could not get possession of the plot even after several years. Could not even recover Rs4.5million paid for the property.”

"Once I became the NAB's chairman, however, people from the society's management came to me and handed a cheque of Rs4.5million to me," he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan, President ICCI, lauded the efforts of the chairman NAB for elimination of corruption, and said that reducing corruption and promoting transparency would help in better growth of business and investment activities.

He said that doing business in Pakistan was quite challenging, and stressed that the government should focus on promoting ease of doing business to put the country on the path of sustainable economic growth.

He emphasized that the NAB should open its Facilitation Desk at the ICCI to address the NAB-related issues of the business community and issues related to any other government department which are creating unnecessary hurdles and delays and especially those public servants that are encouraging any form of corruption within those departments.

This would help the entire business community across Pakistan in resolving their issues with all relevant departments with the help of the NAB.

He further urged that the government should take the business community fully on board in the policy making process that would help in quick revival of the economy.

He said that the SBP should facilitate IT businesses and exporters in international payment.

He said that the FBR should not withdraw cash directly from bank accounts of taxpayers without the right of appeal and process of investigation as it was shattering the confidence of the business community.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021