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PAC directs to block CNICs, place ECL to accused persons in Broadsheet scandal

ISLAMABAD (ESHFAK MUGHAL):- The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has expressed serious concerns over payment of $2.2 million to the Broadsheet firm for recovery of illegal assets of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and others by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in 2008 and directed to arrest and block the CNICs and place the names on Exit Control List (ECL) of accused persons as soon as possible.

The PAC met under the chairmanship of Noor Alam Khan here in Thursday. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has submitted inquiry report of Audit Para regarding Broadsheet LLC. According to the report, Ahmer Bilal Soofi, ex legal consultant NAB, Naveed Ahsan former Chairman NAB, Madina M. Khan, Director Overseas Wing, Tariq Fawad Malik, Representative Broadsheet LLC in Pakistan, Abdul Basit Former Deputy High Commissioner and Hassan Sadiq Shaikh, Ex-Dest Officer(Overseas Wing) NAB HQs were nominated alleged persons in the case.

The Inquiry Commission has identified that an amount of $2.2 million was paid to International Asset Recovery and $1.5 million was paid to Broadsheet LLC in 2008. The NAB had entered in an agreement with these two international firms in year 2000 to trace and locate and recover illegal assets stashed abroad of registered targets. The ARA’s was made with Broadsheet LLC (Isle of Man) but the claim of $1.5 million was paid to the Broadsheet LLC (Gibraltar) and Broadsheet LCC (Colorado).

The PAC was apprised that FIR was lodged against the four nominated accused persons including Madina Khan, Naveed Ahsan, Ahmer Bilal Soofi and Tariq Fawad Malik on 26th Jan 2023. However, Departmental Proceeding has been recommended against Hassan Saqib and the role of Abdul Basit will be determined during the course of investigation.

The committee was informed that the Former Deputy Commissioner Abdul Basit had signed on blank agreement with Broadsheet as representative of the government of Pakistan. The PAC was also informed that Mr Basit was not ready to cooperate with investigation team and insisted that he has been served as high commissioner and can’t explain his deeds in such manners. The official of the FIA told the committee that the inquiry officer has received lot of phone calls after serving notice to the former high Commissioner.  

The Committee was informed that that Mr Ahmer Bilal Soofi was issued a notice on 06th Oct 2022 for appearance on 12th Oct 2022. He appeared before JET and examined as per record. He was served with a questionnaire to which he submitted his reply. After analyzing his reply, he was served 2nd questionnaire. Reportedly, he is out of country. After lodging FIR against him, he got bail. The committee was also informed that Mr Ahmer has lodged complaints to the Chief Justice against the FIA.

The FIA officials told the committee that all accused persons have been left the country and living abroad.

The Chairman and members of the PAC expressed serious concerns over the situation and said this is joke with the country and robbery in daylight and should be dealt with strictly.  

Noor Alam Khan has directed to the relevant officers to arrest to all accused persons adding to block CNIC of all accused persons and place names on the ECL for recovery of the looted amount.  

The committee was apprised that another accused Shahid Ali Baig and Mr. Altaf Hussain in the High Commission of Pakistan, London ware also served separate notices for 26.10.2022. They requested for statement on Zoom. Their request was accepted and examined separately on Zoom meetings. They also submitted their replies which are under deliberation.  

The Director (Finance) NAB HQs and Khadim Hussain, were issued call-up notices for 27.10.2022. They appeared before the JET and submitted their statements. Brig (R) Muhammad Ashfaq Ashraf and Brig (R) Inyat-ul-llyas were served Notices dated 20.10.2022 for appearance on 26.10.2022 but the same returned as un-served. After that NAB Focal Person was contacted and requested to provide their CMGs and correct addresses for execution of notices. Notice dated 10.11.2022 was issued to Brig (R) Inyat-ul-llyas on mailing address mentioned in his CNIC for appearance on 15.11.2022. He appeared before the JET and recorded his statement. Whereas, Brig (R) Muhammad Ashfaq Ashraf was issued 2nd Notice on 15.11.2022 for appearance on 17.11.2022. Moreover, on 27.10.2022, a letter was sent to MOFA Focal Person to approach Embassy of Pakistan in USA to verify and to provide death certificate of Mr. E Jerry James. Reply of this letter is also still awaited.

On 29.08.2022, the Secretary Ministry of Finance, the Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Secretary Ministry of Law & Justice and Attorney General of Pakistan were requested to provide record. The NAB has nominated Mr. Shafqat Melunood, Additional Director (ICW), Operations Division as “Focal Person” on 02.09.2022. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad has nominated Syed All Raza Shah, Director (Europe-I) as “Focal Person” from MOFA on 31.03.2022. Ministry of Law & Justice and Office of the Attorney General for Pakistan have also nominated the Focal Persons except Ministry of Finance.  

A letter was written to Focal Person NAB for provision of attested record relating to Broadsheet on 02.09.2022.

The NAB, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, AGP Office and Ministry of Law & Justice have provided partial record regarding alleged payment of $1.5 Million to Broadsheet LLC. D After scrutiny of record, the alleged person namely Mr. Hassan Saqib, Former Desk Officer (Overseas Wing) NAB HQs, Col (Rctd) Shatizad Anwar Bhatti, Former Director Finance & Operations, NAB HQs and Mr. Abdul Basit, Former Deputy High Commissioner for Pakistan in London were summoned for 27., 28. and 29a of September, 2022 respectively. The Ministry of Finance is addressed again for deputation of Focal Person and provision of record on 26.09.2022. On 27.09.2022, Mr. Hassan Saqib, Ex-Desk Officer (Overseas Wing) NAB HQs appeared and he was interviewed as per record by JET.  

First Notice was also served to Ms. Madina M. Khan for personal appearance before the JET on 27.09.2022 but she failed to appear on the given date. A Notice dated 28.09.2022 was served to Mr. Ghulam Rasool, Former Joint Secretary M/o Law & Justice / Deputy Legal Advisor M/o Foreign Affairs for personal appearance on 04.10.2022. He appeared before the JET and interviewed as per record.  

Mr. Arif Azim, Former Federal Secretary and Acting Chairman NAB was called for 05.10.2022. He appeared before the JET and recorded his statement. Second Notice was served to Ms. Madina M. Khan for 06.10.2022 but she did not appear. Firstly, Notice dated 30.09.2022 was served to Mr. Tariq Fawad Malik (representative of BS in Pakistan) for appearance before the JET on 06.10.2022 but the same returned as un-served.

Secondly, another Notice dated 12.10.2022 was issued to him for appearance on 18.10.2022. meanwhile, it has been learnt that he is residing abroad since 2009. NAB Focal Person provided his email. He was contacted through email which was successfully established. He was served a questionnaire through email to which he sent his reply on 04.11.2022 which is being analyzed by the JET. Mr. Naveed Ahsan, Former Chairman NAB was also served a Notice dated 06.10.2022 for appearance on 11.10.2022. He failed to appear before the JET on given date and time. Thereafter, second Notice dated 12.10.2022 was issued for appearance on 18.10.2022 and the Notice was served by an official of F1A. He got received the Notice to Driver of Mr. Naveed Ahsan. He further intimated that Mr. Nawid Ahsan is out of country for medical treatment. Mr. Naveed Ahsan submitted an application whereby he informed that he is presently in USA and unable to appear before the JET. However, he provided an email address for further communication. He was served a questionnaire through email, reply of which is still awaited.

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