Pak court declares FM Dar proclaimed offender in graft case
Pakistan's embattled Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was today declared a proclaimed absconder by an accountability court after he repeatedly failed to appear before it in a corruption case linked to the Panama Papers scandal.
Declaring Dar an absconder, Accountability Court Judge Justice Muhammad Bashir ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to initiate proceedings against the 67-year-old minister and submit a report within 10 days.
Dar's lawyer said the minister is in London for medical treatment.
The judge also rejected an application by Dar's lawyer to grant him exemption from personal appearance in a case filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Dar is accused of amassing assets of an approximate value of Rs 831.7 million disproportionate to his known sources of income.
The NAB's investigating officer Nadir Abbass told the court that a team from the anti-corruption agency had visited the minister's residence in Lahore and Islamabad after non- bailable arrest warrants were issued against him.
However Dar was not found at either one of his residential addresses, Abbass said.
The investigating officer claimed that the minister is in London to save himself from the court's action.
A show-cause notice was issued to Dar's guarantor, who was asked to submit a reply before the court by November 24 regarding the minister's absence from court.
Earlier, two prosecution witnesses appeared in court to record their statements, Dawn newspaper reported.
Dar's lawyer today presented a medical report for his client dated November 16 in the court.
The NAB, however, raised objections concerning Dar's medical reports.
NAB Prosecutor Imran Shafiq pointed out discrepancies in two medical reports submitted to the court - one earlier and one today - saying that the first report claimed Dar was suffering heart disease and that he had a history of the illness, but today's report said that the finance minister is experiencing certain symptoms that are being diagnosed.
The special prosecutor observed that the report does not even adhere completely to British law.
Dar's lawyer hit out at the NAB team, saying that despite the court's earlier orders, the finance minister's report was not verified by the accountability body.
"They're afraid that once the report is verified, they'll run out of things to say," the lawyer claimed.
The special prosecutor informed the court that NAB had already written to the Foreign Office for verification of Dar's medical report.
The hearing was adjourned till December 4.
Dar had skipped the previous four hearings on account of medical treatment.
On November 2, the accountability court had approved NAB's request to freeze Dar's assets.
Pakistan's anti-graft body has also sought the inclusion of Dar's name on the Exit Control List after he repeatedly failed to appear before the anti-corruption court in the Panama Papers case.
The case was filed against Dar by the National Accountability Bureau after the Supreme Court order of July 28 that also disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister in the Panama Papers scandal.
The NAB had registered three cases of corruption and money laundering against Sharif, his family members, and Dar in the Islamabad Accountability Court, weeks after the Supreme Court order ousted the premier.