ISLAMABAD.: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal has vowed to prevent money laundering at all costs to get the country’s name de-listed from the ‘grey list’ of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Talking to the media on Sunday, the NAB chief said, “The anti-graft watchdog will do its utmost to improve the country’s image, which had been damaged badly by the money launderers.”
Iqbal expressed the resolve that such elements would not be spared rather punished at all costs.
“NAB – which is apolitical organisation and working to eradicate corruption from the country – will take the cases of money laundering to their logical conclusion sans bowing to any pressure,” he said.
The chairman said the bureau strongly believed in respect of the people and never disgraced anyone.
On allegations that NAB was intimidating the business community, he said the bureau never intervened in telegraphic transfers (TTs) of any businessman; however, the bureau had the right to ask any person possessing assets beyond known sources of income, especially from the public office holders.
Iqbal said NAB was a people-friendly institution and committed to protect the business community, for which it had set up special desks at all bureaus across the country within a period of 24 to 48 hours with a mandate to redress grievances of entrepreneurs.
He said NAB had already been directed to immediately address complaints of the business community; however, no complaint had so far been received in this regard.
The chairman said that the bureau had never harassed leading businessmen, but when “a project worth Rs5,000 is completed in Rs500,000” then “questions will have to be raised”.
“NAB cannot keep silent if billions of rupees are deposited in the account of a ‘falooda wala’ (ice cream vendor),” he said, adding that NAB and corruption could not go together.
Pakistan was a poor country with a debt of $100 billion, he said, adding that the debts would have to be paid by the people of the country.
“Questioning the corrupt is not a crime. Extraordinary foreign debts are a national crisis and people should make joint efforts to address the issue,” he said, adding that NAB always welcomed constructive criticism.
The NAB chairman urged certain quarters not to blame him for the country’s economic woes as over 59 per cent people had reposed confidence in NAB as per the Gallup survey.
He said two leading businessmen of the country Arif Habib and Mian Mansha had also appreciated NAB’s performance in writing.
He said NAB had decided to avoid summoning businessmen.
“Only questionnaires will be sent to the suspects and on receiving unsatisfactory answer they will be summoned,” said Iqbal. “NAB has returned over Rs2.5 billion to small investors after recovering it from looters.”
Admitting some lapses in NAB, he said efforts were being made to remove the flaws identified to improve its working.
About allegations that NAB arrests suspects despite lack of evidence, he said, “The accountability court grants remand to the bureau after evaluating incriminating evidences.”
He said some suspects had already fled the country after they came to know that the bureau had sufficient evidences against them.
The chairman said NAB was strengthening its prosecution team, regretting that NAB prosecutors were getting insufficient fee as compared to opponents who received fees in millions.
“NAB should not be blamed for delay in cases as only 25 judges are hearing 1,250 corruption references,” said Iqbal, adding that NAB was being blamed for harassing the bureaucrats.
The chairman said he had asked bureaucrats to work in accordance with the law so that no one could question them.
“NAB will have to question a bureaucrat if millions of rupees are recovered from his home,” he said, urging the government to avoid giving top positions to suspects, who were already on the NAB’s radar.