ISLAMABAD - A parliamentary committee on Tuesday expressed displeasure over the opening of bank account of former finance minister Ishaq Dar in the National Bank of Pakistan by saying how the NBP is opening bank account of an absconder and a proclaimed offender.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, which met under the chair of Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, has expressed concern over the opening of bank account of former finance minister Ishaq Dar in the NBP.

Mandviwalla asked why the former finance minister preferred only the NBP to open the account.

“Such actions will earn a bad name to the country, which is already being listed in the grey list by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF),” he said.

Mandviwalla further said the decision of opening an account of an absconder would also badly damage the image of the NBP, as it was a state-run bank.

However, the NBP’s officials claimed that the bank met the required rules to open the account of Ishaq Dar.

However, the NBP did not share whether the bank’s rules allow absconders to legally open a bank account in Pakistan and whether the bank has facilitated such persons in the past.

The official said that as the court allowed Ishaq Dar to contest the Senate election, an account was also opened by the bank.

Later, committee chairman informed the media that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) would challenge the opening of account of Ishaq Dar, as he was an absconder and a proclaimed offender.  Opening account in the NBP has violated the rules and regulations.

He said that NBP President Saeed Ahmed had facilitated the former finance minister to contest the Senate polls.  The parliamentary committee recommended to the government to amend the bank opening forms to facilitate the customers that should not make the biometric verification process compulsory.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue discussed the compulsory biometric policy to open bank accounts and difficulties faced by the citizens in this regard. The committee expressed displeasure over the policy of various banks regarding opening bank accounts of the parliamentarians.

The committee chairman said that some banks had reportedly refused to open the bank accounts of the lawmakers.  He further said that there should be some other measures for opening of bank accounts except of biometric verification process.

Sharing his experience, Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah said that a bank in Karachi had refused to open his bank account as his thumb impression did not match with the system due to his missing thumb impression lines.

“State Bank of Pakistan has instructed all banks to not open any bank account without biometric verification,” he added.

However, an official of the State Bank of Pakistan informed the committee that there were alternative means of verification to open an account.

The banks use alternative measure if biometric verification fails to work, he added.

The official said that the central bank would take action against the commercial bank, which denied opening account of the senator.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal said that this issue could be resolved by amending the account opening form to facilitate the customers of the banks.

The meeting was also attended by senators Ayesha Raza Farooq, Ilyas Ahmed Bilour, Osman Saifullah Khan, and Mohsin Aziz, and officials of the Ministry of Finance, the State Bank of Pakistan, the National Bank of Pakistan and other departments.