ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Pakistan’s autonomous anti-corruption body, has summoned Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, for questioning in the £190 million settlement case related to the transfer of funds from Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) account, private media reported on Sunday.
Bushra Bibi Called as Witness, Imran Khan Directed to Answer Questionnaire
According to sources, NAB Rawalpindi has called on the former first lady to provide her statement as a witness in her capacity as a trustee of the Al-Qadir University Trust. Simultaneously, the former prime minister has been summoned by the combined investigation team (CIT) of the anti-graft watchdog.
It has been revealed that the CIT was dissatisfied with the PTI chief’s response during his previous appearance before NAB on May 23. As a result, the former premier has been directed to answer a questionnaire provided to him on May 23 by June 7.
NAB’s Obligation to Inform Accused or Witness Status
NAB is legally obligated to inform individuals being summoned, whether they are considered as accused or witnesses for recording statements.
CIT’s Investigation and Request for Donation Records
Following established procedures, NAB’s CIT has already recorded statements from ministers of the previous government. Furthermore, the anti-graft body has requested records of all donations received from the Al-Qadir University Trust, as well as the identities of the donors.
Imran Khan Granted Bail, Bushra Bibi to Cooperate
It is noteworthy that an accountability court had granted bail to Imran Khan in the corruption case until June 19 last week, after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) instructed him to seek bail through the relevant forum. Meanwhile, NAB officials informed the court that the arrest of Bushra Bibi was not necessary in the case, but she was expected to cooperate with the anti-graft body whenever summoned for investigations.
Background on the £140 Million Settlement Case
The case in question originated when the British government discovered a substantial £140 million sum in an account owned by the son of a renowned Pakistani real estate tycoon and his wife from 2018 to 2019. The National Crime Agency (NCA) froze the funds, suspecting illicit origins.
Return of Laundered Funds and Cabinet Discussion
Notably, neither the individuals nor their spouses challenged the account freeze. The UK subsequently returned the laundered funds to the Pakistani government in 2019 following appropriate legal procedures. This decision was jointly announced by the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) and the NCA in a press release.
The case eventually reached Pakistan’s federal cabinet on December 3, 2019, where it was presented by the then-special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM), Mirza Shahzad Akbar, in a sealed envelope. The purpose of the presentation was to discuss the return of the funds, which would be channeled into an account overseen by the registrar of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The said account was associated with the recovery of Rs460 billion from the same property tycoon in connection with fines imposed on a housing scheme in Karachi.
Imran Khan’s Approval and Compensation Package
Sources familiar with the investigation stated that PTI chief Imran Khan approved the settlement without allowing his cabinet members to review it. Further investigation revealed that as part of the agreement to return the laundered money, the property tycoon offered a significant compensation package. This package included the transfer of 458 Kanal, 4 Marla, and 58 square feet of land in Jhelum, along with cash amounting to Rs285 million, which was intended for the Al-Qadir Trust.
Trustees of Al-Qadir Trust and Revocation of Positions
The trustees of the Al-Qadir Trust included then-Prime Minister Imran Khan, his wife Bushra Bibi, and his senior advisers Zulfiqar Bukhari and Babar Awan. However, it should be noted that Awan and Bukhari’s positions were subsequently revoked on April 22, 2020.