NAB to oppose over 100 graft suspects’ relief applications under new ordinance

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ISLAMABAD, FEB 22 (DNA) :  The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has decided to oppose applications filed by more than 100 graft suspects seeking relief under the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Amendment Ordinance 2019, it emerged on Saturday.

In this regard, the accountability watchdog has prepared its response in all of these applications, including some known corruption cases of mega money laundering through fake bank accounts and rental power.

Sources familiar with the matter told the media that the bureau would plead with the court to dismiss former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf’s bail plea in the rental power case as the accused person has inflicted damage of billions of rupees on the national exchequer.

Soon, the NAB will submit its response against other prominent individuals who have applied for the relief including Liaquat Ali Jatoi and former federal minister Akram Khan Durrani.

The bureau has already filed its request with the court to turn down the bail applications filed by Abdul Ghani Majeed, principal accused in the fake accounts and money laundering case.

In the Nandipur power plant reference, the NAB will also challenge Masood Chishti and Shumaila Mehmood’s bail request who have challenged their cases under the new ordinance. For the case, the bureau has submitted its application with an accountability court.

Shumaila and Chishti, who were among seven accused in the Nandipur power plant reference, filed appeals for acquittal on Jan 8.

According to the amendment, the NAB can now only take up cases involving corruption or corrupt practices exceeding an amount of Rs500 million, and no action will be launched against government employees in case of departmental deficiencies.

“Notwithstanding anything contained in this ordinance or any other law for the time being in force, no inquiry, investigation, arrest or proceedings against a government servant, under this ordinance, either as an accused or witness, shall be initiated or conducted by NAB without prior approval of the scrutiny committee,” said a new clause inserted in Section 33-F of the ordinance.

Another amendment barred the accountability watchdog from confiscating property of any public office holder without prior approval of the scrutiny committee.

According to an amendment, “Inquiries and investigations shall stand transferred to the respective authorities or departments which administer the relevant laws of taxation, levies and imposts in question.

“Trials shall stand transferred from the relevant accountability courts to the criminal courts which deal with offences under the respective laws pertaining to taxation, levies and imposts in question.”

Furthermore, another amendment required the NAB chairman to devise a “complaint redressal mechanism for attending complaints against NAB” and present a quarterly report on its performance to the federal government.

In a summary sent by the law ministry to the federal cabinet, the government had claimed that the NAB was dealing a large number of inquiries and investigation including handling of mega corruption cases.

“Under the existing regime a number of inquiries have been initiated against the holders of public office and government servants on account of procedural lapses where no actual corruption is involved. This has enhanced NAB’s burden and has also affected working of the federal government.”

It had further pointed that the NAB had assumed parallel jurisdiction and was inquiring into matters pertaining to taxation, imposition of levies and interference in the domain of taxation regulatory bodies.

“It is therefore felt necessary to define through the subject amendments the operational domain of NAB,” it added.

The anti-graft agency’s jurisdiction over matters relating to tax, stock exchange and IPOs were also curtailed. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and building control authorities will be the sole authorities tasked to act on all such matters.