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ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), on Friday, filed a corruption reference against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former premier Imran Khan, his wife Bushra Bibi and six others in the Accountability Court in the £190 million National Crime Agency (NCA) scam commonly known as the Al-Qadir Trust case.

NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzafar Abbasi along with the investigation officer (IO) of the case Umair Nadeem has filed the corruption reference before the Accountability Court judge Muhammad Bashir.

The bureau nominated Khan, his wife Bushra Bibi, trustee of Al Qadir Trust; Farhat Shehzadi alias Farah Gogi; Shehzad Akbar, former special assistant to the prime minister on accountability and former chairman of Asset Recovery Unit (ARU); Malik Riaz Hussain, chief executive officer (CEO) of Bahria Town Private Limited, Ziaul Mustafa Nasim, former expert on international criminal law ARU, Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, former trustee of Al Qadir Trust, and Ahmed Ali Riaz.

Out of eight accused nominated by NAB six accused including Malik Riaz, Shehzad Akbar, Ziaul Mustafa Nasim, Zulfi Bukhari, Ahmed Ali Riaz, and Farhat Shehzadi are absconders.

The court has started a review of the corruption reference by the anti-graft watchdog against Khan and others.

The NAB requested the court that the accused persons may be tried and punished in accordance with law.

According to the NAB reference during the course of investigation, it transpired that on December 2, 2019, accused Mirza Shahzad Akbar presented a note to accused Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, the then Prime Minister, which revealed that on the application by the National Crime Agency, UK (NCA, UK), an Account Freezing Order (AFO”) was granted by the District Judge at Westminster Magistrate’s Court under Section 303Z3 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 on 14 December 2018.

The said AFO was related to £20 million GBP approx. owned by the Malik Riaz Family.

It further says that on 12 August 2019, the NCA obtained further eight AFOs in relation to £119.7 million GBP held in the accounts of members of the Riaz Family.

The NCA’s investigation also included 1 Hyde Park Palace, London, a prime London property valued at approximately £50 million GBP. The combined total value thus amounted to £190 million GBP.

On April 2019, Bahria Town (Pt) Ltd extended illegal monetary benefit to accused Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, the then prime minister in the shape of land measuring 458 kanals, 04 marlas, 58 sqft, through accused No. Zuifiqar Abbas Bukhari disguised under the garb of donation to AI-Qadir University Project Trust for which accused Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi was the settler/ founder and accused Bushra Imran Khan was the trustee.

The evidence collected during the investigation further established that when the said monetary benefit was extended to Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, neither the trust nor the university were in existence at that time.

In return, accused Malik Riaz Hussain became the sole beneficiary of the £171.159 million out of £190 million GBP repatriated so far, meant to be returned to the State of Pakistan.

It says that that in order to give a cover to the dishonest and malicious adjustment of the E171.159 million GBP against the amount owed by accused Malik Riaz Hussain, and the illegal extension of the monetary benefit to Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, in connivance and with active knowledge of accused Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, malafidely floated to Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, a note dated 2.12.2019.

The note contained misrepresented information, implying that funds frozen in the UK were to be surrendered to Pakistan against a non-existent liability, mischaracterizing a land purchase agreement as a fine, and knowingly misrepresented that a Supreme Court account was being operated for the benefit of the State of Pakistan.

Accused Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, the then prime minister, approved the note in violation of the Rules of Business, 1973. On December 3, 2019, the note was subsequently presented in an in-camera cabinet meeting, leading to the Cabinet’s approval of paragraph 10 of the note and the sealing of the document based on the Cabinet’s decision.

Accused, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, in connivance with Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, the then prime minister, had already dishonestly and for ulterior motives signed and submitted a Deed of Confidentiality to the UK’s NCA on behalf of the Government of Pakistan on November 6, 2019, prior to the cabinet meeting of December 3, 2019.

Accused Barrister Ziaul Mustafa Nasim also dishonestly signed the confidentiality deed as a witness. The designated account mentioned in the deed of confidentiality was the account of the Registrar, Supreme Court of Pakistan, intended for the payment of land owned by Bahria Town Limited Karachi, as per the Supreme Court’s decision.

Meanwhile, the NAB has issued arrest warrants for Khan, Shahzad Akbar, Zulfi Bukhari, Farhat Shehzadi and Ziaul Mustafa in the £190 million settlement case.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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