Committee to probe Broadsheet scandal, report in 45 days: Faraz

Information minister says government will take action against those responsible

ISLAMABAD: The federal Cabinet on Tuesday constituted a committee to be headed by a former judge of the Supreme or High Court to investigate the scandal of Broadsheet LLC, fix the responsibility on illegal beneficiaries and submit its report within 45 days.

The committee was constituted after a heated debate over the report of a ministerial committee into the case. The three-member ministerial committee, led by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz and comprising Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry and Minister for Human Resource Dr Shireen Mazari, had recommended that the case should be probed thoroughly by a judicial committee.

Sources told Pakistan Today that during the meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan not only approved the ministerial committee’s recommendations but also directed the committee to make public the facts in the scandal, involving the London-based asset recovery fund and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Later, addressing a press conference flanked by Fawad and Mazari, Faraz said that the new committee would comprise one representative each of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and attorney general of Pakistan (AGP), besides a senior advocate to be nominated by the prime minister.

Faraz said that the government will probe all the names that surfaced in the London High Court judgment and once the investigation is completed, it will take action against those responsible. “Accountability cannot be one-sided. It is not a choice,” he said. “Corruption investigations are underway against PPP leadership.”

He added that the Broadsheet verdict was based on facts about the corruption stories of the previous rulers. It contain the details of corruption committed before 2,000 and another inquiry is required to look into the wrongdoings done after 2,000.

Faraz further said that the former rulers fully benefitted from the NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) and again went on the looting spree of national wealth without any remorse and shame. The leaders of opposition parties, while in power, misappropriated the national exchequer time and again, he said, adding they were unfortunately gathered under the umbrella of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to seek another NRO.

The inquiry committee has been mandated to share its findings within 45 days, he added.

Speaking at the press conference, Fawad said that Broadsheet LLC was responsible for tracing assets owned by politicians in the United States, United Kingdom and Asian countries. He said that initially the accountability bureau gave a list of 200 individuals that need to be probed.

“The tale of corruption in Pakistan is incomplete without Ishaq Dar. He was obviously among the 200 individuals,” he said and added that Dar’s name was later removed as Broadsheet was told that he was cooperating with NAB.

“Assets worth $114 million owned by the ‘Sharif family’ have been traced,” he also said, adding that the Sharif family owned properties in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UK and the United Arab Emirates.

The human rights minister said that TORs of the committee have been finalised for the investigation in the scandal.

Earlier, the premier had taken notice of the scandal after the court documents had revealed that the NAB had made a deliberate decision to disregard financial damages, which might be caused to Broadsheet, by entering into a settlement with an unauthorised individual and paid around $1.5 million to a fake firm.

The arbitration court that heard the case — Broadsheet LLC vs The Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the NAB — was chaired by Sir Anthony Evans. The court’s ruling titled “Part Final Award” was handed down in August 2016.

The case details the whole saga from establishing NAB to signing and then three years later rescinding the agreement between the NAB and Broadsheet LLC, breach of the contract, illegal payments from Pakistan to wrong entities, and all that led the court to ascertain that NAB was involved in intentional wrongdoings.

The judgment documents had revealed what the arbitration court had concluded that the claimant [Broadsheet LLC] was entitled to recover damages from the respondents [the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the National Accountability Bureau] for the “tort of conspiring to cause unlawful economic loss to the claimant by entering into the settlement agreement in May 20, 2008, with James and companies controlled by him and/or in making payments to him or them thereunder”.

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Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]

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