Thursday, May 18, 2023

£190m settlement case: PTI chief Imran Khan skips NAB appearance

Imran Khan submits five-page written response to NAB on advice of legal team, terms case frivolous

Former prime minister Imran Khan. —PTI Instagram
Former prime minister Imran Khan. —PTI Instagram

  • PTI chief says NAB did not inform him about inquiry tuning into investigation.
  • Imran Khan submits five-page response to NAB.
  • Lawyers had advised PTI chief to skip in-person appearance.

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday skipped an appearance at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Rawalpindi office in a corruption case.

The anti-graft watchdog had summoned the former prime minister in connection with an investigation related to £190m settlement from the UK at 10am today.

The sources confided to Geo News that Imran Khan's legal team had advised him not to appear before NAB in-person and, instead, to submit a written response to the 20 questions asked in relation to the corruption case, which also involves a property tycoon.

In a five-page written response submitted to the anti-graft body, the PTI chief informed the corruption watchdog that he was in Lahore and has been seeking bail in multiple cases which is why he does not have the time to join the investigation.

“I may however, add here that all the allegations made by you in the subject Call Up Notice are absolutely false, frivolous and concocted, and based on deliberate misconception of law and facts, and baseless conjectures and surmises. No case of corruption or corrupt practice is made not from the facts and circumstances existing on the record, rather the entire object of initiating the inquiry and investigation in the case is politically motivated and, to say the least, is based on facts extraneous to law,” the PTI chief told NAB.

The former prime minister also told NAB that he had only received one call up notice during the entire inquiry. He also added that he had challenged the notices sent earlier by it in the same and other cases as per law.

Khan also told the anti-graft watchdog that as per laws it is bound to provide a copy of the report of inquiry immediately if it is converted into an investigation to him which it did not do so.

“On the contrary, it was through a news report by Ansar Abbasi published in daily ‘The News’ of 30th April, 2023, that I came to know of the completion of inquiry and its conversion into investigation,” said the PTI chief.

Khan added that on May 2 he had dispatched a letter to NAB asking for a copy of the inquiry report yet it did not hand it over to him. He explained that due to the NAB’s failure, he had decided to approach the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to seek a copy of the report.

“Thus, on 09-05-2023, I was sitting in the biometric branch of the Islamabad High Court for getting my biometrics verified for the purpose of filing, inter alia, the said Writ Petition, when you manoeuvred my arrest in a manner that blatantly violated, inter alia, my fundamental right to access to justice, which is a component of my fundamental right to life, and thereby not only prevented me from getting my Writ Petition numbered after it had been diarised, you were also instrumental in my abduction from the High Court premises,” said the PTI chief. 

He added that after his “illegal arrest” he was provided with a copy of the inquiry report.

“From the facts and circumstance narrated hereinabove it is abundantly clear that not only you had violated the provision of law by not providing me a copy of the inquiry report as mandated by the proviso to Section 18(c) of NAO, 1999, you had done so deliberately, and, being well aware of your illegal withholding of the said report of inquiry, and the fact that I was in the process of filing a Writ Petition seeking a direction of the honourable High Court for providing me a copy of the said report of inquiry, you, soon after taking me into custody pursuant to my illegal arrest, delivered to me a copy of the said inquiry report,” said the PTI chief.

The former prime minister added that he did not have the inquiry report with him as he left it behind with clothes and shaving kit when he was gone to attend the IHC hearing on May 12.

“As such, I would request that before serving me a call up notice and pursuant thereto recording my statement and requiring production of documents accordingly, a copy of the said inquiry report (along with my clothes and shaving kit that have been left behind in the room where I stayed in Police Lines Islamabad) may be immediately forwarded to me at my address at Zaman Park, or, in the alternate I will instruct my legal counsel in Islamabad, Gohar Ali Khan, ASC to visit your office at your convenience, to collect the copy of the report of Inquiry I left behind while proceeding to attend the Court hearing,” concluded the PTI chief. 

NAB Rawalpindi chapter had summoned Imran Khan and several other PTI leaders in connection with the matter famously known as the Al-Qadir Trust case on May 18.

In its notice, the anti-graft body sought details of the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) 2019 probe into assets worth £190 million from the ousted premier who is currently on bail in this case.

NAB had directed Khan to bring along details regarding the NCA investigation and all documents related to the Al-Qadir University including land papers, trust deeds, and bank statements.

The anti-corruption watchdog also warned the PTI chief of legal action in case of non-compliance with the summon.

Case background

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.

“Khan 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.