£190m reference: IHC approves Imran Khan's bail plea

IHC orders authorities to release the PTI founder against surety bond of Rs1 million

Awais Yousafzai
Former prime minister Imran Khan is pictured in Lahore, on 21 September 2022. — AFP

  • IHC CJ-led bench announces reserved verdict on bail plea.
  • NAB had filed £190 million NCA reference in Dec last year.
  • PTI founder to remain behind bars despite securing bail. 

The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday approved Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan's bail petition in the £190 million National Crime Agency (NCA) settlement reference.

A two-member bench, comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, had reserved the verdict on the bail petition a day earlier after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Amjad Parvez concluded his arguments.

In December last year, the NAB had filed a £190 million NCA reference against Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi and others. 

The other accused named in the reference are Farhat Shezadi (Farah Gogi), Mirza Shehzad Akbar, Zulfi Bukhari and others.

In the reference, the NAB Rawalpindi said that accused persons in connivance with each other have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices as defined and punishable under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

The IHC, its short order today, ordered the authorities to release the PTI founder against the surety bond of Rs1 million.

The court announced the short verdict in an open court verbally, however, the detailed order will be issued later.

Khan, the deposed premier who ousted from power via opposition's no-confidence motion in April 2022, has been facing slew of charges ranging from corruption to terrorism since his removal as the premier.

He has been behind bars since August last year after he was sentenced in Toshakhana case and subsequently convicted in other cases as well including cipher and illegal marriage cases.

Due to his conviction his other cases, the former premier will remain behind bars despite securing relief in the £190 million reference.

What is £190 million settlement case?

The PTI chairman is facing corruption charges of billions of rupees in a case also involving a property tycoon.

Khan — along with his wife Bushra Bibi and other PTI leaders — are facing a NAB inquiry related to a settlement between the PTI government and the property tycoon, which reportedly caused a loss of £190 million to the national exchequer.

As per the charges, Khan and other accused allegedly adjusted Rs50 billion — £190 million at the time — sent by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) to the Pakistani government as part of the agreement with the property tycoon.

They are also accused of getting undue benefit in the form of over 458 kanals of land at Mouza Bakrala, Sohawa, to establish Al Qadir University.

During the PTI government, the NCA seized assets worth 190 million pounds from the property tycoon in Britain.

The agency said the assets would be passed to the government of Pakistan and the settlement with the Pakistani property tycoon was “a civil matter, and does not represent a finding of guilt”.

Subsequently, then-prime minister Khan got approval for the settlement with the UK crime agency from his cabinet on December 3, 2019, without disclosing the details of the confidential agreement.

It was decided that the money would be submitted to the Supreme Court on behalf of the tycoon.

Subsequently, the Al-Qadir Trust was established in Islamabad a few weeks after the PTI-led government approved the agreement with the property tycoon.

Zulfi Bukhari, Babar Awan, Bushra Bibi, and her close friend Farah Khan were appointed as members of the trust.

Two to three months after the cabinet’s approval, the property tycoon transferred 458 canals of land to Bukhari, a close aide of the PTI chief, which he later transferred to the trust.

Later, Bukhari and Awan opted out as the trustees. That trust is now registered in the name of Khan, Bushra Bibi and Farah.

NAB officials were earlier probing the alleged misuse of powers in the process of recovery of “dirty money” received from the UK crime agency.

Following the emergence of "irrefutable evidence" in the case, the inquiry was converted into an investigation.

According to the NAB officials, Khan and his wife obtained land worth billions of rupees from the property tycoon, to build an educational institute, in return for striking a deal to give legal cover to the property tycoon’s black money received from the UK crime agency.