PML-Q leaders laundered money, built assets: NAB

Dawn

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has accused the PML-Q leaders — Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi — of committing money laundering and accumulating illegal assets.

NAB stated this in a reply submitted to the Lahore High Court in connection with a joint petition of the Chaudhry brothers challenging three 20-year-old inquiries against them by the anti-corruption body.

The bureau said an investigation conducted so far revealed that the wealth of Mr Hussain and his family increased to Rs2.556 billion between 1985 and 2018. Their shareholding also increased to over Rs500 million from around Rs2m in 1985.

Mr Hussain’s family has also acquired properties worth more than Rs123m and his two sons namely Shafay Hussain and Salik Hussain have given loan amounting to Rs1.5bn to different companies owned by them.

Reply to Chaudhrys’ plea submitted to Lahore High Court

It said that foreign remittances of over Rs581m had been received in bank accounts of Mr Hussain since 2004. NAB said that five people who remitted money had joined the investigation and denied having sent any remittance. It shows that the petitioner and his family used fake identities to route unexplained money from foreign countries to Pakistan, it said.

About Mr Elahi, the report said the wealth of the petitioner and his family members rose to Rs4.069bn from 1985 to 2018. And their shareholding increased to Rs3bn from 1985 to 2019 while the family acquired properties worth over Rs250m.

It alleged that foreign remittances of Rs978m had been received in the bank accounts operated by the family members of Mr Elahi since 2004. It said that so far three people

who had remitted the money had joined the investigation and denied having sent any remittance, which established that fake identities had been used to route unexplained money from foreign countries to Pakistan.

NAB said the petitioners had repeatedly been asked through call-up notices to submit their version about the assets in question but they failed to come up with satisfactory answers.

The reply said Mr Elahi, in another inquiry of misuse of authority, was accused of making illegal appointments in the local government board during his stint as chief minister of Punjab.

Rejecting an argument by the Chaudhrys in their petition, the bureau said the inquiries into illegal assets and misuse of authority were never approved for closure by the competent authority and the investigation was being held strictly in accordance with law.

It said another allegation of willful default could not be established against the two petitioners. Therefore, the inquiry in this regard was approved for closure by the authority on July 10, 2017.

NAB asked the court to dismiss the petition of the PML-Q leaders for being devoid of any merits.

In reaction to NAB’s reply, a spokesman for Chaudhry brothers said that the institution of NAB was being used for political engineering and old cases against them were being repeatedly opened and closed.

“If rehearing a 20-year-old case is not political engineering then what it is?” the spokesman wondered. He said the complainants against the PML-Q leaders in the inquiries had been unknown and reasons for reopening of matter were also not known.

The spokesman claimed that NAB in its reply had not been able to disclose any asset owned by the Chaudhry brothers beyond their income. He said there was no mention in the bureau’s reply about any corruption, kickbacks, misappropriation or misuse of powers.

The PML-Q leaders in their petition in May last had also stated that the establishment of the NAB, its credibility, partiality and use for political engineering had been a matter of heated debate not only by political parties but also by human rights organisations and intelligentsia both at national and international level.

They said the conduct of the bureau and the manner in which its officials used authority had also been taken notice of by superior courts in a number of cases.

They asked the court to set aside the authorisation of the inquiries and the order for their bifurcation passed by the NAB chairman for being unlawful.

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