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Accountability court issues non-bailable arrest warrants for finance minister

Accountability court issues non-bailable arrest warrants for finance minister

An accountability court in Islamabad on Tuesday issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in response to his prolonged absence from court.

The court had been in session for the proceedings of a corruption reference against Dar, who is accused of amassing assets of an approximate value of Rs831.7 million; disproportionate to his known sources of income.

The court also dismissed once again Dar's petition for exemption from accountability hearings.

The hearing had been delayed as NAB’s investigating officer was unable to reach the accountability court on time. The NAB prosecutor had told the court that the officer was travelling from Lahore to Islamabad for the hearing and had gotten delayed due to smog.

The case will now be heard on November 21.

During earlier proceedings, the accountability court judge, Mohammad Bashir, had asked Ahmed Ali Quddusi ? who appeared in court on Dar's behalf as a pleader ? when the finance minister may be expected to appear in court.

In response, Quddusi had said that, according to a November 6 report from a private hospital in London, Dar's recovery is expected to take another six or eight weeks.

Dar's absence was first attributed to ill health on Oct 30, when the finance minister failed to appear before the court for a hearing. His counsel, Khawaja Harris, had subsequently informed the judges that the finance minister had been admitted to a private hospital in London.

On July 28, a five-member Supreme Court bench had ordered NAB to file three references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and one against Dar, on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Sirajul Haq and Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

In its reference against the finance minister, NAB has alleged that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his own name and/or in the name of his dependents of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million (approx)”.

The reference alleged that the assets were “disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for”.

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