–Judge criticises defendants’ lawyer for seeking leave for Umrah in middle of trial
ISLAMABAD: National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) President Saeed Ahmed on Wednesday moved an application in the accountability court seeking acquittal in the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) reference related to illegal assets of former finance minister Ishaq Dar.
The defence on Wednesday completed the cross-examination of witness Masood Al-Ghani in the illegal assets references against Dar.
NAB had filed an interim reference against the then-finance minister in September last year on the Supreme Court’s directives in the Panama Papers case. Dar was indicted in the case and has been absconding since November.
Later, in a supplementary reference, NAB named NBP President Saeed Ahmed, Naeem Mehmood and Mansoor Rizvi as co-accused in the case. Mehmood and Rizvi are directors of a company owned by Dar.
Moreover, Adnan Shuja, assistant lawyer of Hashmat Habib, the counsel of the co-accused in the case, including Saeed Ahmed, Naeem Mehmood and Mansoor Raza, also sought the court’s permission to take leave for Umrah. Responding to the request, Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir remarked that senior lawyer Hashmat Habib is already not appearing before the court due to health problems. “The trial is ongoing, how can you leave at this stage.”
At Tuesday’s hearing, the NAB forensic report submitted to the accountability court stated that the signatures of the NBP president had been forged.
According to a local media report, NAB’s allegations contradict its own forensic report that states that forged signatures had been used to access the bank accounts.
The forensic examination of the documents was submitted to the NAB Headquarters in 2017 by NAB Deputy Director Muhammad Naseem.
Earlier, NAB Special Prosecutor Imran Shafeeq stated that Dar and Ahmed were working together in Hajveri Modaraba Management (Pvt) Ltd Company and suggested that Ahmed, along with the other co-accused might have assisted and abetted the accused in mounting illegal assets. It further alleged that seven bank accounts were opened in the name of Saeed Ahmad in the years 1997, 1998 and 1999 which were closed in 1999, 2000 and 2002 respectively.
The prosecutor claimed that millions of rupees were transacted into the foreign currency accounts, which were operated from 1997 to 2006.
It needs to be observed that the alleged fake accounts were opened in 1997 and 1998, at least two years after his end of directorship when Saeed was living abroad and was having no say or influence in the company as the director. Also, the NAB’s allegations are in contradiction with its own forensic report that says that signatures of applicant do not tally and forged signatures were used to open these bank accounts.
Saeed Ahmad expressed his ignorance of these bank accounts and their usage for transfer of amounts. According to his statement, he first came to know about these accounts through the media on April 16, 2016.
The NAB’s prosecutor concluded in the reference that the role of Saeed Ahmad can be safely termed illegal omission, which amounts to aiding and abetting the main accused of perpetuating ill-gotten wealth.