NAB summons PTI chief, Bushra Bibi in £190m case on June 7

Anti-graft watchdog summons Bushra Bibi to record her statement as witness and PTI chief to submit response

Sunday, June 04, 2023
An undated image of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) building in Islamabad, Pakistan. — Online/File

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has summoned Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, on June 7 for the investigations of the £190 million settlement case related to the transfer of funds from Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA) account, The News reported Sunday.

As per details, NAB Rawalpindi has summoned the former first lady to record her statement as a witness for being the trustee of the Al-Qadir University Trust, while the former prime minister has been called by the combined investigation team (CIT) of the anti-graft watchdog.

The sources said that the CIT was not satisfied with the PTI chief's reply which he submitted during his last appearance before NAB, Rawalpindi, on May 23. They said that the former premier had been directed to answer the questionnaire on June 7, given to him on May 23.

The law binds NAB, which is an autonomous anti-corruption body, to inform — whoever it is summoning — whether they are being summoned as an accused or a witness to record the statement.

Following the procedure, the NAB’s CIT has already recorded the statements of ministers of the previous government. The body has also asked for the records of all the donations received from Al-Qadir University Trust and those who donated.

It may be noted that an accountability court had granted bail to the PTI chief in the corruption case till June 19 last week after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) directed him to approach the relevant forum for bail.

Meanwhile, the NAB officials had informed the court that Bushra Bibi's arrest was not required in the case but she should cooperate with the anti-graft body whenever summoned for investigations.

The case

The British government, in 2019, uncovered a whopping £140 million in an account owned by a renowned Pakistani real estate tycoon's son, and his wife from 2018 to 2019.

The NCA swiftly froze the funds, suspecting the criminal origins of the proceeds.

Surprisingly, neither the individual nor his wife challenged the account freeze. Following proper legal procedures, the UK returned the laundered funds to Pakistan's government in 2019.

This decision was announced through a joint press release by the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) and the NCA.

The case subsequently made its way to Pakistan’s federal cabinet on December 3, 2019, where it was presented by the then-special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM), Mirza Shahzad Akbar, in a sealed envelope.

The purpose of the presentation was to discuss the return of the funds, which would be channelled into an account overseen by the registrar of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

This particular account was associated with the recovery of a staggering Rs460 billion from the same property tycoon, in connection with fines imposed on a housing scheme in Karachi.

“[PTI chief] approved the settlement without allowing his cabinet members to read it,” a source familiar with the investigation told The News.

Investigations have revealed that as part of an agreement to return the laundered money, the property tycoon offered a substantial compensation package.

This included the transfer of 458 Kanal, 4 Marla and 58 square feet of land in Jhelum, alongside cash amounting to Rs285 million, which was destined for the Al-Qadir Trust.

The trustees of Al-Qadir Trust included then-prime minister Khan, his wife Bushra Bibi and his senior advisers Zulfiqar Bukhari and Babar Awan. However, it is worth noting that Awan and Bukhari's positions were subsequently revoked on April 22, 2020.