NAB chief defends watchdog’s conduct after questions about bureau’s financial recoveries arise

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Javed Iqbal has defended the watchdog’s conduct on Thursday, after questions were raised on the transparency of the monetary recoveries worth hundreds of billions of rupees made by NAB.

While addressing a ceremony in Lahore, he stated that a bulk of the recoveries made by NAB were not in the form of currency bills but in physical assets such as property, land and wheat.

It is pertinent to note that on November 3, in a parliamentary testimony, the Ministry of Finance had expressed complete ignorance about the whereabouts of over Rs821 billion, except Rs6.458bn, that the NAB claimed to have recovered since its inception some 16 years ago.

Subsequently, the PPP had demanded a probe on the matter, while the NAB had issued a report detailing the recoveries it made since its inception in 1999.

The NAB chairman said in the four years under him the accountability watchdog registered 1,270 references involving a sum of Rs1,386 billion.

He added that none of the references were “made up in the air”, adding that the bureau would still be reviewing all the 1,270 references.

“Where NAB feels some that some references are very weak or very old and sometimes convictions don’t happen because there are technical reasons […] we are reviewing them again and if it is felt [that references are weak then we will close them].”

“A complete audit of NAB has been carried out three times, and with God’s grace, apart from two to four ordinary lapses, nothing [unusual or strange] came to the fore,” he said.

“So when this storm in a teacup was created then the ones responsible didn’t know that NAB has kept a record of every single penny,” Iqbal said.

“If I had the authority to decide references then believe me it wouldn’t have taken years,” he stated while responding to criticism on NAB cases not reaching their conclusion.

The chairman further said that a case reaches its “logical end” when a reference is sent to the relevant court. He explained that deciding on cases was the job of accountability courts and not of the watchdog.

 

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