ISLAMABAD - National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal Wednesday ordered the authorities to freeze properties and assets of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the case of accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income, The Nation has learnt.

According to the documents available with The Nation, the NAB chairman signed the order which says, “After having gone through the entire record of prosecution witnesses and material as well as documentary evidence with diligent application of mind, I am of the view that there are reasonable grounds to believe that prima facie the offences of corruption and corrupt practices have been committed as enumerated in Section 9 (a)(v) of the NAB Ordinance 1999. Accordingly, in exercise of powers as conferred upon the NAB chairman under Section 12 of the NAO, freezing order is hereby passed qua the assets, properties as mentioned in reference No 21/2017 titled ‘State versus Muhammad Ishaq Dar pending adjudication. The assets and the properties mentioned in the reference are not to be disposed of, pledged sold or alienated. Moreover, their status shall not be changed in whatsoever manner till disposal of the reference.”

The documents reveal the prosecutor general (accountability) has instructed deputy prosecutor general accountability, Rawalpindi, to file an application for confirmation of the NAB chairman’s order regarding Dar’s case in the accountability court.

An official of the NAB, while talking to The Nation, said the NAB chairman had the power to issue such kind of order, but it was compulsory that the bureau would file application in the light of the chairman’s order in the court for implementation on it.

After issuance of this order, the NAB will file the application in the court within next two weeks. He said if the NAB failed to file such an application in this regard, the chairman’s order would lapse under the rules. Former NAB chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry had rejected the recommendation of the Lahore Bureau regarding freezing assets of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his children and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in corruption references. The Lahore Bureau had also asked for putting the names of the accused on the exit control list (ECL).

However, the NAB spokesperson claimed the former chairman had not passed any such order. He said, “The NAB Lahore director-general has neither asked for freezing accounts nor for putting the names of the Sharifs and others on the ECL.”

The documents further say the NAB Lahore had issued a letter on September 18, 2017, titled “Transfer of Property U/S 23 of the NAO 1999 – Investigation against Ishaq Dar for Accumulation of Assets beyond Known Sources of Income and Others”.

The letter says, in compliance with the order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan dated July 28, 2017, the NAB Lahore has prepared and filed an interim reference in the Accountability Court Islamabad whereas further investigation is still under process.

The letter states, “Any person who transfers or creates a charge on property in contravention of sub-section (a) shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine exceeding the value of the property involved.” It further says “Any transfer/sale/alienation of any property, in any manner whatsoever, is punishable under Section 23(a) of the NAO Ordinance.”

Earlier, the NAB Lahore had written letters to State Bank of Pakistan and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) asking for the bank and business details of Ishaq Dar and his family members.

On the other hand, the NAB chairman Wednesday directed the bureau officials to complete inquiries and investigations following rules and regulations and with use of scientific techniques. He said this while reviewing the performance of the operation division of the NAB at its headquarters.

The NAB chairman said the NAB was established to end corruption, recover looted money from corrupt people and deposit it with the national exchequer.

The officers working in the NAB did not belong to any party or person, but belonged to the NAB and the state, he added.

The NAB chairman said 10-month time was fixed for filing a reference and the timeline for cases would be strictly observed. Javed Iqbal said every effort would be made to arrest proclaimed offenders and wanted persons. He said he would personally supervise the filing of references in the accountability courts so that ends of justice could be met.

He asked the bureau officials to work on the basis of transparency, gather evidences and complete inquiries as well as investigations so that corrupt elements could be sentenced by respective accountability courts, high courts and the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the basis of solid proofs. The proper prosecution of cases would increase reputation of the NAB, he added.

The NAB chairman said he himself would monitor the cases of promotion of officers, besides looking into the cases of deputation in the NAB.

He said the NAB was not established to take political revenge and promote anybody’s wishes. The NAB officials would have to work as a team and with a new passion, energy and commitment, he said.