ISLAMABAD - A day after former premier Nawaz Sharif served a legal notice on National Accountability Bureau chief for accusing him of laundering $4.9 billion to India, the anti-graft body on Friday started an investigation into the case, The Nation has learnt.

The national anti-graft watchdog has assigned the task to an assistant director of NAB Rawalpindi bureau. The official has been directed to complete the investigation of the alleged money laundering against the former prime minister and his associates and submit a report to the chairman without delay.

On May 9, the NAB issued a press release stating that it had taken notice of a report in a newspaper which had claimed that Sharif had allegedly transferred $4.9 billion to India with the help of former finance minister Ishaq Dar, former State Bank of Pakistan governor Ashraf Wathra and former SBP deputy governor Saeed Ahmed.

Well-placed sources told The Nation that NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal wants to take the episode to the logical conclusion and he had directed Rawalpindi Bureau DG Irfan Mangi to review the allegations who assigned the task to Assistant Director Samina Ahmed. Interestingly, Mangi was also a member of the Joint Investigation Team on Panama Papers.

Samina had issued a notice to the State Bank for cooperation and directed it to provide the record in this regard. The sources claimed that the NAB has also asked the writer of the article to provide details regarding his allegations and also give solid evidence in support of his charges.

On Thursday, Sharif had served a legal notice to NAB chairman through his counsel Munawar Iqbal Duggal asking him to tender a public apology within 14 days, or resign and face legal proceedings.

The legal notice read, “Publish a comprehensive and proper apology in two English daily newspapers and two Urdu newspapers with nation-wide circulation, and also broadcast your apology and retraction in the same and with the same prominence as the earlier transmission and pay a sum of Rs1 billion in damage to our client on account of the defamatory publications and for loses caused in pursuance thereof.”

According to Section 36 of NAB Ordinance, “No suit, prosecution, or any other proceedings shall lie against the federal government, provincial government, NAB chairman or any member of the NAB or the rules made hereunder for any act or thing which has been done in good faith or intended to be done under this Ordinance or the rules thereof”.

NAB Spokesperson Asim Ali Nawazish said, “The bureau rejects Sharif’s legal notice to Justice (r) Javed Iqbal and the bureau is working as per the law”.

A senior NAB officer said that the bureau took notice of the media report; therefore, Sharif should have served the notice on the writer of the report or the newspaper instead of NAB chairman. He said how the State Bank could reject the media report soon after NAB took notice of it. He said the corrupt did not commit money-laundering with the approval of the state institutions.