NAB okays inquiries against those named in Panama Papers

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has approved two new inquiries against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s family and expanded its scope of investigation to include Punjab Chief Minister Shabaz Sharif, defunct finance minister Ishaq Dar, their family members and political aides.

NAB also took action for the first time against important leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) — Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak and Zulfiqar Bukhari, a close aide to PTI chairman Imran Khan and a senior official of the KP government — who are accused of illegally leasing out vast tracts of land to an international firm, misusing the provincial government’s helicopter by allowing Mr Khan to use it and owning offshore firms revealed in the Panama Papers.

The PML-N leaders set to face NAB inquiries on separate corruption charges are Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, MNA Hamza Shahbaz and Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman.

The inquiries were approved at an executive board meeting of NAB, presided over by its chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal, at the bureau’s headquarters.

The former prime minister, sent home by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case, is facing three corruption references. On Monday, the NAB board gave formal approval for three supplementary references related to Flagship Investment, Azizia Steel Mills and Avenfield properties, already filed in an accountability court.

According to NAB, an inquiry will be conducted against CM Khattak, KP Chief Secretary Khalid Pervaiz and others for leasing out 275 acres of forest land in Malam Jabba to Siemens Group of Companies through abuse of authority and corruption. The illegal leasing had caused heavy losses to the national exchequer, said NAB. The meeting also approved an inquiry against KP officers who illegally allowed the PTI chief to use the provincial government’s chopper.

The executive board approved an inquiry against the owner of 15 companies named in the Panama Papers — Zulfikar Bukhari, the son of Wajid Bokhari (who is said to be a close aide to Mr Khan and is accused of owning assets beyond known sources of income).

NAB also approved an inquiry against Bashir Dawood, Marriyum Dawood and others for allegedly owning an offshore company named in the Panama Papers. Senator Usman Saifullah and others will also face inquiry for owning over 34 offshore companies reported in the Panama Papers. Abdul Sattar Dero, the managing director of Port Qasim Authority, and others will also face an inquiry for the same reason.

The NAB board approved an inquiry against the owners of the Chaudhry Sugar Mills — including the elder Sharif, CM Sharif, Hamza Shahbaz, Kulsoom Nawaz and Marriyum Nawaz — for owning assets beyond known sources of income. A complaint regarding their involvement in suspicious transactions was received from the Financial Management Unit of State Bank of Pakistan.

A supplementary reference was approved against Mr Dar for owning assets beyond known sources of income, as well as against the former director of the Lahore Development Authority, Ahad Cheema, and others accused of corruption and abuse of power.

An inquiry was approved against the management of Paragon City Private Limited. They are accused of swindling people. Mr Dar, Anusha Rehman and former Pakistan Telecommunication Authority chairman Ismail Shah are facing an inquiry for illegally awarding a Next Generation Mobile Services contract.

Certain officers of the Sui Southern Gas Company and the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) will face an inquiry for disconnecting gas supply to the mills and causing massive losses to the national asset. NAB also approved an inquiry against the PSM management accused of causing a loss of Rs7.5 billion to the national exchequer by illegally withdrawing provident funds and gratuity of employees.