ISLAMABAD  -   The federal government has constituted four-member Assets Recovery Committee under the supervision of Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar.

According to sources, the committee comprises National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Director General Rawalpindi Bureau Irfan Mangi, Federal Investigation Agency Director Dr Rizwan, Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan Member Muhammad Ashfaq and one member from State Bank of Pakistan.

It has also been decided that the committee will meet every week at the office of Shahzad Akbar in the PM Secretariat to review the performance every week, the sources added.

Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, Akbar announced a new legislation to broaden the mutual legal assistance to obtain evidence from other countries against financial crimes and mega corruption cases involving Pakistanis.

“We have finalised the mutual legal assistance law,” said Shahzad Akbar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability at the news conference.

Akbar said that the law will soon be placed before the cabinet for approval and then be brought first through an ordinance and be presented before the parliament later. The new law will empower the National Accountability Bureau and the FIA to carry out their investigations as per the international treaties.

Akbar said that a bilateral treaty is again being ratified with the Swiss authorities which will enable the country to get the details of the bank accounts opened by Pakistani nationals.

Akbar said that Pakistan had officially asked the German government for information and once it was received, they would be able to access information for accounts created, both in the past, and in the future.

The special assistant said that Pakistan has already signed a treaty with Britain which will help speed up the investigations into different high-profile asset cases. He said he is also visiting Britain next week where he will meet with his counterpart of national crime agency and also hold discussions on the pending requests for extradition including that of former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. He said they are also exploring the option of initiating civil proceedings in Britain as it will ensure early repatriation of the plundered amount.

Akbar said that over the last decade or so no effort was made for the assets recovery despite the fact that countries such as China and India achieved great success in the assets recovery. He said that agreements will also be signed with China and the UAE for the exchange of information and join investigation to check the money laundering. The special assistant said the system has now been streamlined. He said a special asset recovery unit has been established in the PM office which is working under his supervision.

"We have increased pace to counter challenges such as money laundering and corruption in mega projects," he said and added that about ten billion dollars of money laundering was annually taking place from Pakistan. He said as the relevant institutions such as the FIA have been activated and being fully supported, therefore, cases of corruption and those of fake accounts are being unearthed.

Akbar said that the previous governments are responsible for the current economic situation of the country. He said besides huge debt burden, the losses of public sector enterprises stood over one trillion rupees.

Further updating the media, he said, overall debt has crossed Rs 30, 000 billion. Public sector issues are very pathetic with Rs 400 billion PIA losses and electricity Rs 1200 billion losses. "Similarly, Pakistan Railways and Utility Store Corporation are facing losses. All these we got in inheritance. Public sector department's losses have crossed Rs one trillion," he added.

"The public sector deficit has exceeded beyond Rs 100 billion and Pakistan was fast moving from (FATF's) grey list to black list yet the former leaders of the country were least bothered," he alleged.

The government would pursue any traces of black money, he said and added "We will contact the governments of all countries where we find traces of illegally transferred money."

He said that corruption in mega projects like in Multan Metro scandal also resurfaced.   Similarly, different accounts and fake companies were opened on fake names. "There is one private company but on investigation the owners was lower grade employees."

Similarly, Faloodha seller's (vendor) account also resurfaced with Rs 2 billion transaction. Five transactions of Rs 2 billion were also made in rikshaw owner Rashid's account while Rs 800 million was transferred in quilt seller's account.

Akbar appreciated Supreme Court for playing key role in all this investigation. LNG case was also under investigation, he added.

Replying to a question, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Iftikhar Durrani said the PEMRA needed to take action against fake news. He said that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa all the information were shared under right to information act.

He said the government was improving right to information on federal level to make access to information more easy.

Durrani said the government believed in freedom of press, adding "We want media to monitor our 100 days plan progress."

He said that in this regard a website was established with purpose to keep media updated.  He said "He is very accessible for media persons and they can verify any kind of news."

 

 

 

4-member body formed for assets recovery