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ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court hearing the Lok Virsa corruption reference against Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Robina Khalid and others on Monday granted time to the defence counsel for submitting arguments regarding the acquittal applications filed by the accused under the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2021.

The judge of Accountability Court-I, Muhammad Bashir, while hearing the case against PPP Senator Robina Khalid approved the defence council’s request to grant him time to present his arguments with respect to acquittal applications filed by the accused Mazharul Islam and others. The court adjourned the hearing till May 16.

The National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) prosecutor, Sohail Arif, and the prosecution witness also appeared before the court. The anti-graft watchdog on July 1, 2019 had filed a corruption reference against Ms Khalid, who is also a former chief executive director of M/s Cosmos Production (Pvt) Ltd.

The accused include former executive director of Lok Virsa Mazharul Islam and incumbent chief executive director of M/s Cosmos Production (Pvt) Ltd Dr Tabinda Zafar, who are facing the charge of committing wrongdoing with regard to the Self Generated Fund of Lok Virsa. The bureau had contended that the accused committed embezzlement in the Lok Virsa fund and caused a loss of Rs 30.13 million to the national exchequer. The NAB had initiated investigation against the accused in November 2018.

According to the bureau, the evidence collected during the investigation established that the accused committed the “offence of corruption and corrupt practices as defined under Section 9 (a), (VI) and (XII) punishable u/s 10 of [National Accountability Ordinance (NAO)] 1999”.

During the investigation, it was established that Mazharul Islam misused his authority and illegally extended the contracts in favour of Cosmos Production (Pvt) Ltd in connivance with Senator Khalid and Dr Zafar.

According to NAB, accused Mazhar and Zafar gained illegal benefits by getting the extension of agreement without calling the fresh tenders/any competition and also failed to deposit the 50 percent profit earned by them, which resulted in the loss to the national exchequer to the tune of Rs 30.13 million.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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