NAB drops loan default probe against Chaudhrys

Tells LHC allegations against them could not be established


Rana Yasif September 18, 2020

LAHORE:

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has informed the Lahore High Court that it has closed proceedings against Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and former Prime Minister Shujaat Hussain to the extent of the allegation of willful loan default.

In a detailed reply submitted before a division bench headed by Justice Shahid Abbasi, NAB stated that “the allegation of willful loan default could not be established against accused persons, therefore, the same was approved for closure by the competent authority on July 10, 2017”.

The bench had directed NAB to submit a report after filing a reference within four weeks regarding charges against the leaders of misuse of authority. On a query, NAB had told the court an inquiry about assets beyond means was in the final stage.

The PML-Q leaders had challenged in the LHC the NAB chairman’s authority to reopen the 20-year-old case against them.

Both leaders filed separate petitions against three inquires, accusing NAB of being involved in political engineering and raising questions over its investigative authority.

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They stated that the courts had earlier ruled on NAB’s role and “erroneous methods” of investigation.

The Chaudhry brothers submitted that the anti-corruption institution had launched investigations against them on the charges of misuse of authority, willful default and assets beyond means in the year 2000 but failed to find any evidence against them during the past 20 years.

They said the NAB chief had once again ordered a probe into the 20-year-old case. They contended that the chairperson of the bureau had no authority to reopen a case that had already been closed.

They contended that the investigation had been authorised in 2000 on two complaints, of which one was anonymous and the other was without the address of the complainant. They said both complaints were based on vague allegations and were not backed by any substantial evidence and proceedings on them had been pursued in a slipshod manner.

 

The petitioners stressed they had been regularly declaring their assets in due course before the authorities concerned and holding the properties in their own names belied the existence of any criminal intent.

Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain maintained that they had held important posts in the past, including that of the premier and Punjab chief minister.

They asserted that their entire careers had been investigated into at great length over a period of last two decades, yet no substantial evidence could be collected to suggest any personal gain by them at the expense of the public exchequer or abuse of public office.

“In these circumstances, the respondent bureau did not have any justification or lawful authority to proceed in the matter,” the petitions said.

They stated that an allegation of money laundering against them was frivolous and had been “levelled with malicious intention of character assassination of the petitioners as the officials of the respondent bureau have miserably failed to collect any evidence worth name to show that any transaction relating to the petitioners has had any nexus with any crime”.

Both the leaders complained that they were being politically victimized. They requested the LHC to declare the NAB’s move to reopen the 20-year-old case as illegal.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2020.

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