Fi­nance min­is­ter charged with amass­ing wealth beyond known sources of in­come

The Gulf Today - - Front Page - BY TARIQ BUTT / REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: An anti-cor­rup­tion court on Tues­day is­sued an ar­rest war­rant for Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ishaq Dar, me­dia re­ported, af­ter the vet­eran politi­cian failed to turn up for sev­eral court hear­ings.

The war­rant comes at an awk­ward time for Pak­istan, which wants to raise in ex­cess of $1 bil­lion on in­ter­na­tional debt mar­kets through a Sukuk and a Eurobond in com­ing months and wants to woo in­ter­na­tional in­vestors.

Dar, who has been charged with amass­ing wealth beyond his known sources of in­come, has for three weeks missed court hear­ings con­ducted by the anti-graft agency the Na­tional Ac­count­abil­ity Bu­reau (NAB), prompt­ing a judge to is­sue a non-bail­able ar­rest war­rant, me­dia re­ported.

Dar, who is re­ceiv­ing med­i­cal treat­ment in Lon­don and now faces ar­rest upon his re­turn to Pak­istan, has pleaded not guilty. A spokesman for the NAB was not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment.

The charges against Dar fol­lowed an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the inances of for­mer prime min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted in July af­ter the Supreme Court dis­quali­ied him for not declar­ing salary from his son’s off-shore com­pany.

The inance min­is­ter is one of Sharif’s clos­est po­lit­i­cal al­lies and Dar’s son has mar­ried Sharif’s daugh­ter. Both men deny any wrong­do­ing.

Dar has re­jected grow­ing calls to re­sign amid a wors­en­ing eco­nomic out­look for Pak­istan, which is bat­tling to stave off a bal­ance of pay­ments cri­sis amid dwin­dling for­eign cur­rency re­serve and a widen­ing cur­rent ac­count de­icit.

Mean­while, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) turned down ex-premier’s re­quest to stay pro­ceed­ings in the ac­count­abil­ity court in three ref­er­ences.

The court is­sued a pre-ad­mis­sion no­tice to the NAB to re­spond to Shairf’s pe­ti­tion. The bench com­pred Jus­tice Aamer Fa­rooq and Jus­tice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani.

Ear­lier, Sharif’s lawyer Azam Tarar sub­mit­ted the ap­peal, pray­ing that the trial court’s de­ci­sion should be de­clared null and void as it was given in haste with­out tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the IHC’S de­tailed ver­dict on his client’s plea.

Last week, the ac­count­abil­ity court re­jected Sharif’s plea. Ear­lier, the IHC had asked the ac­count­abil­ity court to re­view Sharif’s ap­pli­ca­tion and give de­tailed rea­son­ing for its de­ci­sion.

Also dur­ing the day, as the dead­line for Sharif’s sons Hus­sain and Has­san to ap­pear in the ac­count­abil­ity court lapsed on Nov.10, the NAB re­quested seizure of their prop­er­ties.

Has­san and Hus­sain failed to ap­pear be­fore the court de­spite the is­suance of a procla­ma­tion against them last month. The NAB deputy pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral said that the no­tice had been pasted on the premises of the Fed­eral Ju­di­cial Com­plex (FJC) on Oct.12.

The no­tice ask­ing the two broth­ers to sur­ren­der and at­tend the court had also been pasted out­side the Shar­ifs’ var­i­ous res­i­dences and sent to Lon­don through the Pak­istan For­eign Ofice, he told the court.

He as­serted that the NAB had done its due dili­gence in at­tempt­ing to get the two sus­pects to co-op­er­ate with the court, and now re­quested their prop­er­ties be seized as they con­tin­ued to avoid court.

Hus­sain has four bank ac­counts in a Pak­istani bank. One ac­count holds $3,992, the se­cond holds 4,272 eu­ros, the third has £207.53 while the fourth has Rs382,381 in it, the NAB’S com­pli­ance re­port sub­mit­ted to the court said.

Replies from La­hore Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (LDA) and De­fence Hous­ing Au­thor­ity (DHA) La­hore were also pre­sented be­fore the court that stated both the hous­ing schemes had no record of any prop­er­ties of the two ac­cused in the case.

File / Reuters

Ishaq Dar is seen af­ter a party meet­ing in Islamabad re­cently.

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