An accountability court in Islamabad on Wednesday indicted Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in a corruption reference filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The minister pleaded not guilty to all charges, terming them baseless. The NAB prosecution presented evidence and a list of witnesses against the accused before the court.
The hearing was subsequently adjourned till October 4.
The reference was filed against Dar for possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.
A situation of chaos was observed outside the accountability court when Dar arrived for the hearing. The doors to the court were shut for reporters, and the finance minister had to wait at least 20 minutes outside before he was allowed to enter the court premises from the back door.
On Monday, Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir handed over a copy of the reference filed by NAB to Dar’s counsel, along with copies of related documents, which comprise 23 volumes.
The court had rejected a request by Dar’s counsel, Amjad Pervez, to grant them seven days to peruse the voluminous record, saying that since the Supreme Court had set a six-month deadline, it could not adjourn proceedings for a week.
On September 8, NAB had filed a reference against Dar, and three separate references against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children.
In the reference against Dar, the NAB alleged that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests / resources in his own name and / or in the name of his dependants of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million (approx).” The reference alleged that the assets were “disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for.”
On Sept 18, the Lahore NAB wrote to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to remind them that since a reference was pending against him, “the bank accounts of Mr Dar may be cautioned”.
The bureau, however, left room for transactions from these accounts, as NAB has made them subject to the orders of the accountability court.
NAB has also written to district governments, asking them to stop any transfer or disposal of the properties owned by Dar, warning that in case of non-compliance, they could face up to three years in prison under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.
On Tuesday, an accountability court declined Nawaz Sharif’s requestfor exemption from personal attendance and issued bailable arrest warrants for Maryam, Hussain and Hassan Nawaz, as well as retired Captain Mohammad Safdar, for their absence from its proceedings.