Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ishaq Dar corruption case: Bank account details submitted, hearing adjourned till Oct 16

Accountability court summoned two witnesses of the prosecution to record statements

ISLAMABAD: Corruption proceedings against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar finished for the day after a marathon eight-hour hearing in the accountability court hearing the Supreme Court-directed National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference.

Details of Dar's five bank accounts were submitted to the court by NAB. Hearing for the assets reference case against the finance minister was conducted by Justice Mohammad Bashir.

During the hearing conducted on Thursday, the prosecution's witness Tariq Javed submitted details of Dar's of five accounts, belonging to two of his companies and his wife. 

The accountability court had summoned two witnesses of the prosecution — Shahid Aziz and Tariq Javed — to record their statements pertaining to the case today.

Javed presented details of the bank accounts of Dar's wife and the companies Hajveri Modarba and Hajveri Holdings. 

Dar's counsel, Khawaja Harris, objected to the veracity of the documents, saying if the court wants to continue proceedings like this then the case will be wrapped up in a few days.

"Electronic statements cannot be taken as primary evidence," argued Harris, requesting the court to make his objection part of the court record.

However, NAB Special Prosecutor Imran Shafiq argued that it is the court’s job to decide what is primary evidence, and that any missing or unverified documents can be added and corrected later.

Later, Shahid Aziz of the National Investment Trust (NIT) gave his testimony. 

The finance minister's legal team also conducted a cross-examination of the witness and the documents presented before the court. 

'Cloud of objections'

Addressing the media outside the court in the morning, Privatisation Minister Daniyal Aziz said they have objected to every page submitted by the witnesses, as these documents aren’t proven. 

"Today’s proceedings are under a cloud of objections," said Aziz, adding that it is surprising that since day one Dar’s name was nowhere near the Panama Papers but with the [PTI's] lockdown [in 2016], all the ‘targets’ have been achieved. 

"This is a political case but we are still bowed before the courts. Not a single person, including judges and media owners, named in the Panama Papers has faced courts even though [Jamaati-e-Islami chief] Sirajul Haq's petition [in the Supreme Court] had mentioned every individual named in the Panama Papers. 

Almost 200 policemen are stationed in and around the judicial complex to provide security for today's hearing, while all routes except one entry point have been sealed off to prevent the unauthorised entry of any uninvited persons.

Dar is accompanied by Aziz and State IT Minister Anusha Rehman, among others, in the hearing.

The NAB has submitted a list of 28 witnesses with the court.

At the last hearing on October 4, NAB produced two witnesses: Ishtiaq Ali of Bank Alfalah and senior vice-president of Al Baraka bank, Tariq Javed.

Only Ali recorded his statement with the court and was then cross-examined by Dar's counsel, Advocate Amjad Pervez. Dar's counsel objected to the documents presented by NAB, saying they are mere photocopies and not verified documents.

Dar was indicted on September 27 in the assets reference case, however, he denied all charges and vowed to prove his innocence in court.

Dar challenged his indictment and trial in the Islamabad High Court but the pleas were dismissed with directions to take them to Justice Ijazul Ahsan, the Supreme Court judge monitoring the corruption references. 

The reference

The corruption reference, pertaining to Dar's owning assets that are disproportionate to his known sources of income, was filed by the National Accountability Bureau in light of the Supreme Court's July 28 judgment in the Panama Papers case.

After skipping his first hearing, for which a summons had been issued, Dar appeared in court later after bailable warrants for his arrest had been issued to ensure his presence.

The judge then directed Dar to deposit a Rs5 million surety bond to ensure his appearance at the hearings.