ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s plea seeking exemption from appearance was dismissed on Wednesday by the accountability court hearing the corruption case against him.
The minister, who is said to be in London for heart treatment, is accused by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of possessing assets disproportionate to his declared sources of income.
As the hearing began, Dar’s secondary counsel, Ayesha Hamid, requested the court to grant her client exemption from appearance on medical grounds and continue with the case by approving the appointment of a legal representative.
The NAB prosecutor opposed the request and sought issuance of non-bailable arrest warrants for the minister due to his third absence today from the proceedings.
Judge Mohammad Bashir, after returning from a recess, dismissed Dar’s exemption plea as well as NAB’s request for non-bailable warrants, and ordered for the continuation of the bailable warrants that were ordered on October 30, when Dar first skipped the proceedings.
He further ordered Dar’s bail guarantor to ensure the minister’s presence at the next hearing, warning that the surety bond of Rs5 million would be confiscated in case of a no-show.
The court also did not rule on the appointment of a legal representative.
The hearing was then adjourned until November 14.
During today’s proceedings, the judge observed that when the minister appears next, the court will have a separate medical exam conducted to ascertain the nature of Dar’s ailment.
In the last hearing of the case on Nov 2, the accountability court approved NAB’s request to freeze Dar’s assets.
A request by Dar to spend Rs0.6 million monthly from the accounts for personal expenses was also rejected by the court.
All accounts belonging to Dar, except those operated by accountant general revenue, were to be frozen after the court order.
The accountability court also ordered that the bailable warrants against the minister would continue as he did not appear in court.
The NAB team, as well as four witnesses — all officials of various private banks — were present in court.
Dar’s counsel submitted the minister’s medical certificate in court and sought an exemption from appearance.
The minister’s guarantor informed the court that Dar is in London for medical treatment.
After NAB Prosecutor Imran Shafique opposed the request and sought non-bailable arrest warrants, the court reserved its decision on the plea and later ruled that the bailable warrants would continue.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s assets
The bureau froze the assets after its chairman ordered to do so on October 18 but it needed the court’s endorsement as according to NAB laws, the order is only valid for 15 days.
NAB was seeking the freezing of Dar’s six bank, properties and vehicles in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates as well as investments in both countries.
NAB has listed the properties and assets of Dar as follows: A house in Gulberg, Lahore, a two-kanal plot in Parliamentarians Enclave, Islamabad, a two-kanal plot with Ayaz Builders (Pvt) Ltd, a plot in Senate Cooperative Housing Society, Islamabad, a two kanal and 19 marla plot in the name of Mrs Tabassum Dar, three plots in Alflah Housing Society, Lahore owned by Dar, his wife and son Ali Mustafa Dar and six acres in Mouza Milot owned by him and his wife.
In the list of foreign properties and assets, the NAB mentioned a flat in Emirates Hills Dubai, owned by Dar, an apartment in Palm Jumairah Dubai, a 2003 Bentley Arnage car, a 2006 Mercedez, two sets of shares/investment in Baraq Holdings (Pvt) Ltd and shares/investments in Al-Nahayan owned by Ishaq Dar.
The list of cars in Pakistan include a 2004 Land Cruiser owned by Mrs Dar, a 1999 Land Cruiser, a 2004 Toyota Corolla, a 1998 Mercedez Benz, a 2008 Mercedez and a 2014 Land Cruiser.
Moreover, Dar and his wife have made an investment of Rs3,453,060 in Hajveri Holdings (Pvt) Ltd and Rs2,700 shares by in Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd.
NAB, in its application, had informed the court of serious apprehensions that the accused, his dependents/benamidars might dispose of, alienate, sell, create charge or change the status of the properties/investments.