Illegal allotment of forest land: NAB displeased over Zardari, Bilawal response

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) expressed dissatisfaction over the response submitted by former President Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in an alleged illegal transfer of land of Punjab Forest Department associated with Park Lane Estates Pvt Ltd.

Zardari and Bilawal were summoned before the NAB as alleged shareholders of the private company.

Farooq H. Naek, counsel for ex president Zardari and Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, appeared before the NAB. 

“An inquiry was authorized against officers/officials of CDA, M/s Park Lane Estate Company Pvt Ltd and others on allegation of illegal transfer of land measuring 118k-14m of compartment No.34 and 35 of Punjab Forest Department by CDA officials to M/s Park Lane Estate Company Pvt. Ltd,” NAB maintained.

According to the SECP record, Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are 50% shareholders of M/s Park Lane Estate Co. Pvt Ltd,” the anti-graft body added.

In his 35-minutes interaction with NAB team, Mr Naek provided an explanation to the anti-graft body over the absence of his clients.

The counsel admitted that his clients were shareholders of this M/s Park Estate Pvt Ltd but never owned this company. 

NAB investigation revealed that M/s Park Estate purchased 2,460 kanals of prime land in Sanjani area of Islamabad. The company purchased this land from Faisal Sakhi Butt, who had purchased the land from a Pakistani American Nasir Khan, for Rs62 million in 1997.

Speaking to media after the meeting, Naek told media that this matter links to revenue department and NAB was harassing his clients.

“Investigators knew that Zardari and his son have no link to this Park Lane Company—showed all relevant documents—team had no answer—it’s political victimization,” Naek said. 

Sources within NAB informed that the investigators have advised  Naek to come up with detailed response in the next hearing of the case, adding that the NAB has taken the financial records of the Park Lane Company, and have already interrogated the officials of CDA and Revenue Department on the case.

“During the course of investigation, it revealed that the revenue officers in connivance with CDA officers, on application from M/s Park Lane Estate Company Ltd, illegally extended undue benefit to M/s Park Lane Company Ltd through demarcation and handing over possession of 118-14m forest land,” said NAB’s official statement on the case.

“The revenue officers in order to extend illegal favour to M/s Park Lane forged and tampered the revenue record while on the other hand, the CDA misusing their authority handed over the possession of the state land to M/s Park Lane Estate.” 

The SECP record showed that Mr Zardari and his son Bilawal had 150,000 shares in Park Lane company.