The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has filed a corruption reference against former Prime Minister Imran Khan, Bushra Bibi, and other suspects in the £190 million settlement case.

The reference was submitted by NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General Muzafar Abbasi and investigative officer Umar Nadeem in an accountability court in Islamabad, with the registrar’s office currently examining the document.

Besides former Prime Minister Imran Khan and former First Lady Bushra Bibi, the reference names several other suspects, including Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf (PTI) leaders Zulfi Bukhari, Shahzad Akbar, lawyer Barrister Zia-ul-Mustafa Nazeer, and three others, totaling eight individuals.

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The filing of the reference comes days after the federal cabinet gave the go-ahead to conduct the jail trial of the PTI chairman in corruption cases.

According to The News, the cabinet summary, moved by the Ministry of Law and Justice, was approved via circulation.

The anti-graft watchdog had requested the ministry to allow the trial to be held in Adiala jail considering the law and order situation.
The ministry had already issued a notification on the trial of the PTI chairman in the £190 million National Crime Agency (NCA), UK, and Toshakhana case in prison.

According to the notification issued by the ministry on Nov 28, the concerned accountability court will sit at and conduct the trial of the suspects in the Central Prison, Adiala.

“The federal government is pleased to accord approval that the accountability court concerned shall sit and conduct the trial of the accused (PTI chairman and former PM) and others in Central Prison, Adiala, with reference to the case regarding misuse of authority/ illegal sale of gifted state assets, etc. under Section 16(b) of NAB Ordinance, 1999,” the notification said.

The case

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman, Imran Khan, along with his wife Bushra Bibi and other PTI leaders, is currently embroiled in a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) inquiry linked to a settlement between the PTI government and a prominent property tycoon, Malik Riaz. The case involves allegations of corruption amounting to billions of rupees and reportedly resulted in a loss of £190 million to the national exchequer.

Adjustment of Funds:

Imran Khan and other accused are charged with adjusting Rs50 billion (£190 million at the time) sent by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) to the Pakistani government. This fund adjustment is said to be part of an agreement with Malik Riaz.

Undue Benefit and Land Acquisition:

Khan and Bushra are accused of receiving undue benefits, including over 458 kanals of land at Mouza Bakrala, Sohawa. This land was allegedly obtained to establish Al Qadir University.

Seizure of Assets in the UK:

During the PTI government, the NCA seized assets worth £190 million from Malik Riaz in Britain. The NCA stated that these assets would be passed to the government of Pakistan.

Approval of Settlement:

Then-Prime Minister Imran Khan sought approval for the settlement with the UK crime agency from his cabinet on December 3, 2019, without disclosing the details of the confidential agreement. It was decided that the money would be submitted to the Supreme Court on behalf of Malik Riaz.

Establishment of Al-Qadir Trust:

Subsequently, the Al-Qadir Trust was established in Islamabad a few weeks after the PTI-led government approved the agreement with Malik Riaz. Notable figures such as Zulfi Bukhari, Babar Awan, Bushra Bibi, and her close friend Farah Khan were appointed as members of the trust.

Land Transfer and Trust Ownership:

Two to three months after the cabinet’s approval, Malik Riaz transferred 458 canals of land to Zulfi Bukhari, a close aide of the PTI chief, who later transferred it to the trust. Bukhari and Awan eventually opted out as trustees, and the trust is now registered in the names of Khan, Bushra Bibi, and Farah.

NAB Investigation:

NAB officials were initially probing the alleged misuse of powers in the recovery of “dirty money” received from the UK crime agency. Following the emergence of “irrefutable evidence,” the inquiry was converted into a full-fledged investigation.