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Monday Feb 12 2018

Dar corruption case: FIA's Wajid Zia submits JIT report, records statement

Accountability Court-I is located inside the Federal Judicial Complex, pictured here on February 2

ISLAMABAD: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Additional Director Wajid Zia who headed the Panama case Joint Investigation Team (JIT), appeared before the accountability court on Monday where corruption proceedings are underway against former finance minister Ishaq Dar. 

Zia is a key prosecution witness in the reference against Dar, accused by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of possessing assets disproportionate to his declared sources of income.

As Zia appeared in court, he submitted volume one and nine of the original Panama case JIT report and began recording his statement. 

He i†nformed the court that the FIA forwarded his name for inclusion in the JIT, adding that on May 5 the Supreme Court ordered the formation of the JIT under him.

He then informed the court of the work they did related to the former finance minister, stating that Dar's assets were shown to be Rs9.1 million according to his wealth statement in 1991 and Rs831.6 million in the 2008-09 statement. 

Zia added Dar failed to prove the enormous growth in his assets before the JIT. 

Moreover, Zia confirmed his signature on the JIT report before the judge. 

After Zia's statement was recorded, the hearing was adjourned until February 14. 

Earlier, as the hearing commenced, Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir inquired into the whereabouts of Zia, as he was expected to record his statement in court today along with investigation officer Nadir Abbas — the last two prosecution witnesses.

The court was informed that Zia had been summoned and should appear soon. The judge then adjourned the proceedings until 11:30am today to give time to the prosecution witness to appear.  

Court hints at timely conclusion of cases

During the hearing in the morning, the NAB prosecutor informed the court that there are reports that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is facing three corruption cases before the same court, plans to travel abroad.

Judge Bashir then observed that it would not be right if the accountability court's proceedings are delayed as the Supreme Court and JIT completed their work on time during the Panama case hearing. 

At the last hearing on February 8, Zia had appeared before the accountability court. He informed the court that the JIT's final report is not available with him as all the record was submitted to the Supreme Court.

In response, the judge observed that they will write to the apex court's registrar once more to be provided the JIT report.

NAB has filed the reference against Dar, a senator and key aide of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in light of the Supreme Court's July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case. 

Following his indictment, Dar has been a no-show in the proceedings after he departed for London in October last year seeking medical treatment.

Moreover, on February 7, the court reserved its decision on Dar's plea to un-freeze his assets which were seized last year on NAB's orders.