LHC grants bail to Khawaja Asif in assets beyond means case

The Nation  |  Jun 24, 2021

LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday granted bail to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Khawaja Muhammad Asif in a money laundering and assets beyond means case.

The division bench comprising Justice Aalia Neelum and Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi announced the short order while allowing post-arrest petition filed by Khawaja Asif on conclusion of arguments of the parties.  

At the outset of proceedings, a prosecutor on behalf of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) apprised the court about assets and business investments of Khawaja Asif. He submitted that Khawaja Asif received amounts from Dubai but he failed to give a money trail. He submitted that Khawaja Asif did not inform the bureau, whether the amount was received as salary or profit on some investment.

Vaccinations save over 14,000 lives in UK At this, Justice Aalia Neelum questioned whether Khawaja Asif received the amount in US dollars or Pakistani rupees.

To which, the prosecutor replied that Khawaja Asif received the amount in US dollars but got it exchanged in Pakistani rupees. He further submitted that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) probe was limited to the extent of Khawaja Asif’s ‘Iqama’.

The court observed that the FIA also probed the salary issue, and questioned, whether the bureau was also looking into the matter? To this, the prosecutor replied that FIA only probed the salary but the NAB investigated assets beyond the means of Khawaja Asif. The court questioned, whether Khawaja Asif misused his powers and the bureau had any evidence in this regard.

6 injured in pedestrian bridge collapse in Washington The prosecutor submitted that NAB’s case was not of kick backs or corruption but it was a case of assets beyond means. He submitted that Khawaja Asif had a negative balance of Rs 230 million which further reduced to Rs 150 million. He submitted that the bureau did not mention the fact in its report but it had all the evidence for the purpose. Justice Aalia Neelum observed that different stances of NAB emerged in its two replies. She observed that NAB filed two replies in the matter, which contradict each other. However, the prosecutor stated that it was not the case, adding that Rs 230 million were shown as a negative balance in the first report, whereas, Rs 150 million were negative balance in second report. At this, the bench questioned why the NAB changed time and period in its different reports.

To this, the prosecutor replied that it was bona fide of the bureau that it reduced the controversial amount.

New Zealand crush India in World Test Championship final The court further questioned that it was stated in the NAB report that investigations were in progress, whereas, the investigation officer had stated that the reference had been sent to the NAB chairman for approval.

At this stage, the petitioner’s counsel also produced ‘Iqama’ of Khawaja Asif before the court.

The prosecutor submitted that Khawaja Asif received Rs 9000 Dirham as salary and the company did not join the investigations and told that it would reply before a judicial forum, when the bureau contacted it.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that Khawaja Asif received Rs 87 million as salary from a Dubai based company.

However, the prosecutor stated that the bureau sought all this information from Khawaja Asif but he did not provide the same.

Johar Town blast: Punjab CM announces financial assistance for victims Justice Aalia Neelum observed that all the details were given in the Iqama and details of the salary had also been given in documents.

The prosecutor submitted that Kahwaja Asif did not declare his income from 2004 to 2011.

At this, Justice Aalia Neelum submitted that the bureau acknowledged the Iqama but did not acknowledge its terms.

The prosecutor replied that the bureau also did not acknowledge Iqama as it was not verified from any place. He further stated that 161 statements were on record against Khawaja Asif.

However, the bench remarked that it had got the Iqama verified. Subsequently, the bench granted bail to Khawaja Asif and directed him to submit surety bonds for the purpose.

It is pertinent to mention here that the counsel for Khawaja Asif had already completed his arguments, a day earlier. He pleaded with the court to grant bail to his client as all allegations were baseless.

Catalan separatist leaders leave prison defiant Khawaja Asif was arrested in December last and he filed the petition on March 27 after he was sent to jail on judicial remand in the case.

The NAB had launched investigations against the PML-N leader under Clause 4 of NAB Ordinance 1999 and section 3 of Anti-money Laundering act. It alleged that assets of Khawaja Asif increased substantially which did not correspond to his income. The bureau also stated that Khawaja Asif claimed to receive Rs 130 million from a UAE firm but he failed to present solid evidence during the investigations. 

The bureau also alleged that Khawaja Asif was running a benami company.

 

 

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