Court grants pre-arrest bail to Bushra Bibi in £190 million reference

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DNA

RAWALPINDI: An accountability court on Monday approved Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan’s wife and former first lady Bushra Bibi’s pre-arrest bail in the £190 million reference.

The development comes after a two-member Islamabad High Court (IHC) bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri  had approved Khan’s bail plea in the said case in May.

The former prime minister, along with Bushra and other PTI leaders, are facing a NAB inquiry related to a settlement between the PTI government and a property tycoon, which reportedly caused a loss of £190 million to the national exchequer.

The couple, however, remains behind bars due to the iddat case and is unlikely to be freed after a district and sessions court rejected their pleas seeking suspension of the sentences in the aforesaid case.

During the hearing today, the NAB presented three more witnesses who were cross-examined by the defence lawyers.

So far, statements of 30 witnesses have been recorded in the case, of which, 27 have gone through cross-examination.

The accountability watchdog’s counsels also apprised the court that the arrest warrant for the former first lady has not been issued yet.

The court then summoned other witnesses on the next hearing and adjourned the case till July 5.

The case

The NAB had filed a reference against Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi and others back in December 2023 relating to £190 million that were transferred from the UK.

Amongst those named in the reference are Farhat Shezadi (Farah Gogi), Mirza Shehzad Akbar, Zulfi Bukhari and others.

In the reference, the NAB Rawalpindi said that the accused persons in connivance with each other have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices as defined and punishable under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

The watchdog has accused the former PM and others of allegedly adjusted Rs50 billion — £190 million at the time — sent by Britain’s NCA to the Pakistani government as part of the agreement with the property tycoon.

They are also accused of getting undue benefit in the form of over 458 kanals of land at Mouza Bakrala, Sohawa, to establish Al Qadir University.

During the PTI government, the NCA seized assets worth 190 million pounds from the business tycoon in Britain.

The agency said the assets would be passed to the government of Pakistan and the settlement with the Pakistani property tycoon was “a civil matter, and does not represent a finding of guilt”.

Subsequently, then-prime minister Khan got approval for the settlement with the UK crime agency from his cabinet on December 3, 2019, without disclosing the details of the confidential agreement.

It was decided that the money would be submitted to the Supreme Court on behalf of the tycoon.

Subsequently, the Al-Qadir Trust was established in Islamabad a few weeks after the PTI-led government approved the agreement with the property tycoon.

Bukhari, Babar Awan, Bushra Bibi, and her close friend Farah Khan were appointed as members of the trust.

Two to three months after the cabinet’s approval, the property tycoon transferred 458 canals of land to Bukhari, a close aide of the PTI chief, which he later transferred to the trust.

Later, Bukhari and Awan opted out as the trustees. That trust is now registered in the name of Khan, Bushra Bibi and Farah.

According to the NAB officials, Khan and his wife obtained land worth billions of rupees from the property tycoon, to build an educational institute, in return for striking a deal to give legal cover to the property tycoon’s black money received from the UK crime agency.