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Gilani granted pre-arrest bail in 11 corruption cases

Gilani granted pre-arrest bail in 11 corruption cases

KARACHI: An anti-corruption court granted on Monday interim pre-arrest bail to former prime minister and PPP leader Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani in 11 new cases pertaining to a trade subsidy scam.

The cases pertain to approval and disbursement of trade subsidies amounting to billions of rupees to fake and illegible companies through fictitious claims and backdated cheques during the tenure of the last PPP government.

Apart from Mr Gilani, others nominated in the cases include former commerce minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, some former and serving senior officials of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and some private persons.

Mr Gilani and Mr Fahim were chargesheeted in 12 cases last year and they obtained bail from the trial court.

But the court issued non-bailable warrants for the PPP leaders last month after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) named them in supplementary investigation reports about around a dozen more similar cases.

After securing protective bail from the Islamabad High Court, the former prime minister accompanied by his lawyer Farooq H. Naek and dozens of PPP workers appeared in the trial court in Karachi and filed pre-arrest bail applications.

The counsel said that Mr Gilani was being framed with mala fide intentions of political victimisation, adding that he had earlier been implicated in 12 cases merely on the basis of an allegation and now more cases were being filed against him on identical grounds.

The anti-corruption court’s judge, Mohammad Azeem, observed that the applicant’s contentions required consideration and granted him interim pre-arrest bail till Oct 12 in 11 cases against a surety bond of Rs100,000 each.

The court asked the applicant to be present on next hearing for confirmation of the bail or otherwise.

Around 70 cases pertaining to the trade subsidy scam against two former chairmen, a former chief executive and some senior officials of the TDAP and other individuals are pending in the court.

Mr Gilani and Mr Fahim were chargesheeted in 12 of the cases last year. But the FIA submitted supplementary charge-sheets in 11 cases on Aug 27 of which the two PPP leaders were named in five cases.

The agency also submitted separate charge-sheets against Mr Gilani in four cases and against Mr Fahim in three cases. A few days later, the FIA named the former premier in three more cases.

According to the prosecution, the embezzlement was committed in freight subsides announced by the commerce ministry under the Trade Policy 2002-03 to promote export of non-traditional items.

It claimed that Faisal Siddiq Khan and M. Firdous had visited the Prime Minister’s House to give Rs5 million to Mr Gilani for allegedly directing the TDAP’s chief executive to approve subsidy claims filed by Faisal Siddique. It alleged that Mohammad Zubair, deputy secretary (personal) at the PM secretariat, had received the money.

The prosecution alleged that on the directives of Mr Fahim, Farhan Junjeo, a suspended official facing a departmental inquiry, had been requisitioned from the Sindh government and inducted into the commerce ministry in Aug 2009.

Farhan Junjeo, appointed director in the commerce minister’s office, had issued directives in subsidy cases, it alleged.

The major chunk of subsidy amount had come into the hands of Farhan and Faisal who were the alleged front men of Mr Fahim and Mr Gilani, it alleged and added that of the 48 companies receiving subsidies 22 were fake and the remaining were ineligible to obtain the facility.

Talking to reporters after the hearing, Mr Gilani criticised the PML-N and said they should be told how many more cases were to be registered against them.

He said that not a single case had been registered on political basis during his tenure as prime minister.

He alleged that the National Accountability Bureau and the FIA were being used for ulterior motives which would adversely affect their credibility.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2015

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