NAB distances itself from Broadsheet saga

Closing down anti-graft watchdog will only benefit the elite, says bureau chairman


Our Correspondent February 09, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has distanced itself from any role in the Broadsheet saga saying the agreement with the UK-based asset recovery firm was inked two decades ago and that a commission had already been working to investigate the matter.

Broadsheet LLC, which was registered in the Isle of Man, during the Pervez Musharraf era, helped the then government and the newly established NAB to track down out-of-the-country assets purchased by over 200 Pakistanis through alleged ill-gotten money.

The UK-based firm maintained that it entered into an agreement for the recovery of funds and assets in June 2000 with the then president through the NAB chairman.

After the anti-graft watchdog terminated the contract in 2003, Broadsheet and another company involved as a third party filed for damages, saying Pakistan owed them money according to the terms agreed upon since the government was taking action to confiscate some of the assets they had identified.

The companies' claims against Pakistan were held valid by an arbitration court and later by a UK high court that gave an award of over $28 million against Pakistan last year.

Initially, a committee was formed to probe the Broadsheet issue but later an inquiry commission was constituted following approval of the federal cabinet.

Addressing the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) bureau on Tuesday, NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal observed that the national graft buster was not involved in the Broadsheet scandal.

“The current management of NAB has no role in the Broadsheet issue. The agreement with UK-based firm was inked in the year 2,000, which culminated in 2003. The legal proceedings of the agreement ended in 2009,” he said.

“A commission has already started probe in the matter and NAB would extend complete cooperation to it,” he added.

Defending the NAB against the allegations of nepotism, Iqbal maintained that the shutting down of the anti-corruption establishment would only benefit the elite.

“NAB has always been subjected to propaganda and allegations [of bias] were leveled against it. NAB works according to its own rules and procedure,” he said.

The NAB chairman stressed that his and the anti-graft watchdog’s interest was only with Pakistan and to bring back the looted wealth of the country.

“Ninety per cent of the cases pertain to those people whom even I don’t know. [We] believe in making the accountability process transparent.”

He said NAB was held responsible for destroying the economy but maintained that it neither charged tax nor determined the interest rate and was not responsible for making economic policies either.

"So how can we impact the country's economy?" he asked.

The NAB chief noted that the only “fault” of the anti-corruption establishment was that it questioned the elite how they spent the nation’s wealth.

“Closing down NAB will only benefit the elite. The people would not have even imagined in their dreams that someone would ask them [about their wealth]”.

The NAB chairman was told that the bureau had recovered Rs3,018.096 million from corrupt elements during 2018 to 2020 and deposited the amount in the national exchequer.

He was further informed that the anti-corruption watchdog had recovered billions of rupees from fake housing societies which was returned to the poor investors.

Meanwhile, a total of 1,230 corruption references having volume of Rs943 billion are under trial in various accountability courts.

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