NAB court records statement of two witnesses in graft case against Dar

  • The court has adjourned hearing until October 30, summoning Abdul Rahaman Gonda and finance minister again
  • Finance minister had been indicted for possessing assets beyond means on September 27
Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The accountability court on Monday resumed hearing on a corruption reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau  (NAB) against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for possessing assets beyond means.

The finance minister reached the court along with his legal counsel, Khawaja Haris amid tight security, while Judge Mohammad Bashir took up the case.

The court has summoned two of the prosecution witnesses Masoodul Ghani and Abdul Rahman Gondal – bank officials – to record their statements in the case.

Abdul Rahman Gondal while recording his statement provided the record of a Dar’s account, including account opening form and transaction details, in a private bank, located on the premises of the parliament.

The witness said that the account was opened in 2005, adding that he has provided details from March 2005 to 2017.

Gondal told that he made the first appearance before the investigation officer of the anti-graft watchdog on August 17 this year.

While cross-examining the witness, Dar’s counsel Harris and NAB prosecutor Imran Shafiq exchanged heated words. Both lawyers accused each other of influencing the witness.

The second witness, Masood Ghani also recorded his statement and provided bank record of Ishaq Dar. He was also cross-examined by the defense counsel.

Later, NAB submitted a plea seeking endorsement for seizing the Dar’s assets by the new NAB chairman. However, the court has sought a reply from Dar regarding the application.

The court has adjourned the case until October 30 and summoned Gondal and the finance minister on the next hearing again.

Previous Hearing

Earlier, Shahid Aziz, Tariq Javed and Ishtiaq Ali had submitted their statement to the court, while cross examination has also been conducted by Dar’s counsel Khawaja Haris.

On last hearing, Judge Muhammad Bashir had to adjourned the case after it was informed that Dar’s counsel, Khawaja Haris, was in abroad.

Advocate Momina, member of Dar’s legal team, asked the court to adjourn the hearing, adding that it could record the statements of the witnesses, but Haris will cross-examine them in next hearing.

However, the NAB’s lawyer said that defense lawyer was not committed to the case, adding that he will appear before the court if his client is taken into custody.

When judge inquired about the arrival of Haris, the junior counsel said that he will come by Wednesday of next week.

Later, the court accepted the request of the defense lawyer and adjourned the case till Monday (October 23).

Indictment

On September 27, the finance minister had been indicted for possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.

Dar had rejected the allegations levelled by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in its reference prepared following the orders of the Supreme Court in its July 28 verdict in Panamagate case.

The NAB authorities had provided a list of 28 witnesses in the case on which the court directed the prosecution to produce two of the witnesses on next hearing, which is scheduled for today.

Petition against Indictment

On October 3, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday dismissed two separate petitions of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar challenging his indictment and trial by an accountability court.

A division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, while dismissing the petitions for being non-maintainable, suggesting that the petitioner should take up any objections with the monitoring judge of the Supreme Court.

NAB Reference

According to the NAB reference, the accused had acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his name or in the name of his dependents of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million as per the investigation conducted so far.

The assets are disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for, the reference said.