The Accountability Court hearing fake bank accounts case Thursday granted physical remand of three accused, including an accountant of a firm owned by former President and Co-Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) till May 9.
While hearing the case, Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik remanded accused Muhammad Hanif, an accountant of Park Lane Estates and secretary Parthenon Private Limited Iqbal Khan Noori, a director of Parthenon Pvt Ltd, and Muhammad Saleem Faisal, general manager Tracom Pvt Ltd, to the NAB for seven days.
Prosecutor NAB Usman Mirza informed the court that the bureau arrested Hanif on April 24 in Park Lane case, as he is allegedly involved in misappropriation of bank loans obtained by Parthenon Private Limited.
He further told the court that Hanif managed to obtain Rs 1.5 billion loan from Habib Bank Limited (HBL), withdrew the proceeds in cash, and got pay orders prepared in the names of fictitious persons to hide the beneficial owners. He requested the court to grant further physical remand of the accused.
While objecting to the NAB’s request, the defence counsel said his client Hanif neither remained owner/partner nor secretary of the company. “When a bank grants loan to any person, it receives land paper or any other thing from him,” he said.
The NAB prosecutor told the court that bureau investigators arrested Noori, director of Parthenon (Pvt) limited, a front company of Park Lane, on April 17. Noori had allegedly misappropriated Rs 1.5 billion obtained as loan from the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and he also remained an employee of Tameer Mashriq, a second company of Park lane, he said.
He said Parthenon Company had been working for the Park Lane Company. The NAB prosecutor requested further physical remand of the accused for further investigation.
The defence counsel objected to NAB’s request to grant further remand of the accused. “It does not come under the purview of NAB to know where the amount had been spent,” he said, adding the stance of NAB was totally baseless that the accused had remained an employee of Tameer Mashriq. There was no harm in working as an employee in a company, he said.
The defence counsel further said that NAB had issued notices to eight accused but did not issue notice to Noori. “His client appeared before NAB on a single phone call,” he said, adding that his client was 74-year-old and was suffering from heart disease; therefore, the court might send him to jail on judicial remand.
He said there was no justification with NAB to obtain further physical remand of the accused. According to 2007 Supreme Court order, the NAB did not have authority to get further remand, he said.
The NAB prosecutor told the court that Rawalpindi NAB had arrested accused General Manager Tracom Pvt Ltd Muhammad Saleem Faisal on April 12 in fake bank accounts scam for committing corruption and corrupt practices in extending of loan and its misappropriation by front company Parthenon Private limited, Park Lane Estates Pvt Ltd and others.
He said the accused had allegedly dishonestly and illegally evaluated the property at a higher rate in comparison with previous evaluated rates to facilitate a dummy firm Parthenon Pvt Ltd in securing a huge loan against the International Business and Shopping Centre (IBSC) in 2009. The accused increased the valuation of property 10 times within a few months, he said, urging the court to grant further seven days physical remand of the accused for more investigation into the scam.
The defence counsel objected to the NAB prosecutor’s request for the physical remand of the accused.
The court after hearing arguments of the both defence and prosecutor reserved its order for some time. Later, the court announced its judgement and handed over the three accused to NAB for seven days.