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ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), on Tuesday, filed a fifth corruption reference against former president Asif Ali Zardari and his close aid over billions of rupees of transactions through fake bank accounts. The NAB has nominated Zardari along with a former employee of the President House, Mushtaq Ahmed, in the reference which has been filed before the Accountability Court.

According to the reference, an illegal transaction of billions took place between Mushtaq Ahmed and a private housing society. The amount was used to purchase properties in a posh locality of Karachi, it said. Zardari owns these properties.

It says that the accused, Zardari held the office of President of Pakistan during year 2008-2013 and is also co-chairman of Pakistan's People Party (PPP) since 2007 to date. Zardari having regard to the responsibilities of the offices he held, conducted himself dishonestly with the intention to get pecuniary advantages and undue favors for him, it says.

The reference says that the investigation reveals that a joint bank account was opened in Summit Bank Limited, Dolmen City Branch Karachi. The investigation further reveals that the accused, Ahmed was a close and trusted person of the accused Zardari, whereas, convict Zain Malik, was a Director of Bahria Town (Pvt.) Limited, it says.

The accused, Zain Malik has entered into a plea bargain which has been duly approved by the accountability court-I as the convict have agreed to return the ill-gotten gain through plea bargain which proves that the account has been used for ill-gotten amount.

The NAB reference says that during investigation, it has transpired that accused Ahmed was appointed as a stenographer in President House who remained there from 2009 till 2013 and in the same period accused Zardari was the president of Pakistan.

The financial profile of accused Ahmed is also investigated which shows that the accused Mushtaq Ahmed had no such source of income to match with the magnitude of transactions in the above mentioned joint account, it says.

According to the NAB, the probe revealed that an amount of Rs150 million was paid to one, Ahmad Abdul Bari against House No F-32, Block 04, Clifton, Karachi, which was transferred in the name of accused Zardari, which proves that accused Mushtaq Ahmed was a benamidar of accused Zardari in the said joint account.

According to the NAB, the accused, Zardari, failed to provide any justification for the acceptance of an amount of Rs150 million, which proves that amount received through a complicated, circuitous and devious route by using the convict Zain Malik and his trusted person accused Ahmed, by concealing the origin and trail of money, the same was used to purchase the House No.F-32, Block 04, Clifton, Karachi.

In the conveyance deed of the property, the mode of amount paid has been mentioned as cash, whereas the payment was made through 18 cheques issued from the said joint account of convict Zain Malik and accused Mushtaq Ahmed.

The investigation further established that the accused Zardari dishonestly and falsely declared the cost or acquisition of Clifton property acquired through illegal means against consideration of Rs53.3 million in his wealth statements (2014) with the FBR and Statements of Assets and liabilities submitted with the Election Commission of Pakistan during General Elections 2018.

This was done to conceal the true value of the property which was acquired illegally without consideration and he also reduced the value of property to launder the illegitimate money acquired as a consequence of corruption and corrupt practices, which is an offence under NAO- 1999.

The accused, Zardari, wrongfully gained and acquired the property through illegal and with disproportionate amount, which has been routed through the above mentioned joint account by using the accused Ahmed as his trusted and close associate/benamidar along with convict Zain Malik.

The accused persons in connivance with each other, committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices which falls under section 9(a) (ii) (iv) & (xii), punishable under section 10 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999 and Schedule thereto, read with Section 3 & 4 of Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010.

It says that on appraisal of the material and evidence, it would be appropriate to proceed further against the aforementioned accused persons, as there is sufficient incriminating material available to justify filing of this reference. Thus, the matter is referred to this court within the meaning of section 18(g) read with section 24(b) of the NAO, 1999.

The NAB requested the court that the accused persons may kindly be tried by this court or any other court of competent jurisdiction at the designated place and they may graciously be punished in accordance with law.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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