ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday suspended National Bank of Pakistan President Saeed Ahmad on the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) request.
Ahmad is co-accused in a supplementary money-laundering case with two other persons. The case has been filed in an accountability court.
The NAB has filed the main reference against former finance minister Ishaq Dar. However, the court has already exonerated Saeed Ahmad on charges of money-laundering but he continues to face allegations of aiding and abetting Dar in laundering the money.
The NAB took a plea in letters written to the finance ministry that Ahmad could influence the ongoing investigations. The cabinet approved removal of National Bank of Pakistan President Saeed Ahmed Khan citing a pending case against him for his alleged involvement in money laundering of billion of rupees, said Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry after the cabinet meeting.
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“It is strange that the previous government appointed a person as head of the country’s largest bank who was involved in billion of rupees money laundering along with former finance minister Ishaq Dar and faces an inquiry,” the information minister said.
The Ministry of Finance had also made attempts during the caretaker government period to suspend Ahmad. But caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk blocked the move, saying that it would be unjust to remove Ahmad until he was convicted by the court.
In the caretaker cabinet meeting, the secretary finance could not satisfy the then prime minister about the kind of pressure that Ahmad could exert to affect outcomes of the NAB’s reference.
“My view in the cabinet was that until he was proven guilty, the government could not remove the NBP President,” said Ali Zafar, former law minister, while talking to The Express Tribune. He, however, said that due to serious nature of charges, Ahmad could be suspended. “We then decided to leave the matter for the next government,” said Zafar.
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The sources said that Finance Minister Asad Umar stated in the cabinet meeting that Ahmad cannot be removed from his position until he was convicted by the court. He backed the proposal to suspend Ahmad. The finance minister is said to have stated in the meeting the NBP president can only be removed until he was proven guilty or he was medically unfit to serve. The government has given the officiating charge of the NBP president to the senior most officer, Tariq Jamali.
Ahmad enjoys a long association with the former ruling family, spanning over four decades. In 2014, Ahmad was appointed as deputy governor of the central bank for two years.
In March 2017, the PML-N government appointed Ahmad as pesident for a period of almost 22 months.
Ahmad is over 69 and a half years old and the SBP regulations bar appointment of Chief Executive Officer of a commercial bank beyond 70 years of age.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2018.
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