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NAB begun process of declaring Ishaq Dar proclaimed offender

29 November, 2017

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The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has begun the process of declaring former finance minister Ishaq Dar a proclaimed offender for repeatedly failing to join the trial in the reference filed against him for allegedly possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.

A notice has been put up outside the accountability court by the Bureau's investigating officer warning Dar to appear before the court within 10 days or else he will be declared a proclaimed offender, it emerged on Wednesday.

The 10-day period will expire on December 4, which is when the next hearing of the case will be held. The court is likely to declare Dar a proclaimed offender on the same day.

The court had last week declared Dar, who is currently in London, an absconder and warned his guarantors of the confiscation of surety bonds worth Rs5 million if the accused did not join trial proceedings.

Dar's Guarantor Ahmed Ali Quddusi had sought three weeks to present the former finance minister before the court.

The court heard arguments pertaining to confiscation of the surety bonds on Wednesday. The hearing commenced after a delay of around two hours because neither Dar's guarantor nor his lawyer had arrived at the scheduled time.

Quddusi filed an application in the court, requesting more time to present the accused. Accepting his plea, the court allowed him time until December 4 to present Dar. Failing this deadline, the guarantor's surety bonds may be confiscated.

NAB Special Prosecutor Imran Shafiq opposed Quddusi's application, saying the guarantor had already been given ample time to present the accused. Since he has failed to present Dar, his surety bonds of Rs5m should be confiscated.

However, the court decided to give an extension to the guarantor to present the accused.

The noose seems to be tightening further around the former finance minister after NAB decided to reopen the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference against him earlier this month.

The Hudaibiya reference will be the second ‘mega-corruption’ case against Dar being investigated by NAB, after the reference filed against him in the wake of the Panama Papers case judgement.

The reopening of the case was recommended by the joint investigation team formed by the apex court to probe the Panama Papers allegations against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members.

On July 28, a five-member Supreme Court bench had ordered NAB to file three references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and one against Dar, on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Sirajul Haq and Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

In its reference against the finance minister, NAB alleged that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his own name and/or in the name of his dependants of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million (approx)”.

The reference alleged that the assets were "disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for".

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