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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Former Pakistan finance minister stripped of properties in graft case

The four-time finance minister fled to London a year ago and has not returned to Pakistan 

Ishaq Dar, who was declared an absconder in December after he failed to appear before the court in a case associated with the Panama Papers leaks declared himself not guilty and dismissed the allegations against him. AFP
Ishaq Dar, who was declared an absconder in December after he failed to appear before the court in a case associated with the Panama Papers leaks declared himself not guilty and dismissed the allegations against him. AFP

An accountability court in Pakistan has given the go-ahead to the country's anti-graft watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to auction former finance minister Ishaq Dar's assets and seize his bank accounts.

Justice Muhmmad Bashir Islamabad of the accountability court ordered on Tuesday the Punjab provincial government to take charge of Mr Dar's assets. The Punjab government can either sell or keep the properties.

Mr Dar came under investigation in July 2017 when the supreme court found that both him and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had hidden assets.

“Accused Muhammad Ishaq Dar who was declared as proclaimed offender did not appear within the time specified in a proclamation, therefore, above said, property as well as bank accounts, shall be at disposal of concerned provincial government within the meaning of section 88 (7) CrPC,” Judge Bashir wrote.

Mr Dar, who was declared an absconder in December after he failed to appear before the court in a case associated with the Panama Papers - leaked information for hundreds of thousands of offshore entities - declared himself not guilty and dismissed the allegations against him.

The four-time finance minister fled to London a year ago and has not returned to Pakistan.

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NAB documents show that Mr Dar owns six bank accounts at different banks in Lahore and Islamabad. A total of 13 movable and immovable assets in Pakistan and seven properties including companies abroad.

Him and his wife also owns several luxury vehicles including two Mercedes Benz, three Land Cruisers and plots in Lahore and Islamabad. Mr Dar is the owner of the apartments at Emirates Hill and Jumairah in Dubai.

“Ishaq Dar, is the major criminal of the current economic crisis that Pakistan has been facing and he has not appeared before the courts instead he fled abroad,” Pakistan Information Minister, Fawad Chaudhary told The National.

Mr Dar was accused of having "assets beyond means" following a supreme court verdict in which former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted over not declaring his income.

“Courts have power to auction the assets of absconders, but the courts have double standards as they have soft corner for the powerful former military dictator Pervez Musharraf. Dar’s case in no time has reached to seize of his assets but Musharraf whose case is in the courts for years [was] given a free hand,” Yasser Latif Hamdani, a lawyer at Islamabad High Courts told The National.

The NAB prosecutor Imran Shafique said that Mr Dar refused to cooperate and did not appear at court, failing to justify his absence.

"Our government will take every step to chase those culprits who are corrupt and given financial loss to Pakistan and put them behind bars," minister Chaudhary said.

NAB spokesperson Nawazish Ali Asim, denied to comment on the request made by The National.