ISLAMABAD: Responding to criticism against the provision, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry has said provision of the plea bargain also exists in laws of many countries and in Pakistan it has helped in recovering money from looters and returning it to the state coffers.
In an exclusive interview with INP, Chaudhry said under Section 25-B of Accountability Ordinance, every criminal is bound to place a request for plea bargain for settlement of case.
“The request for plea bargain is thoroughly reviewed and opinion of the law experts is also sought. Finally approval for the plea bargain is acquired from the court,” he said.
The chairman said NAB since its inception has so far recovered rupees 285 billion and during the recent time it has recovered rupees 45 billion through this provision
To a question, he said NAB has recovered 3.25 billion rupees from Balochistan’s secretary finance Mushtaq Raisani, and Sohail Majeed Shah – front-man of the former adviser finance Khalid Langove. This amount, he claimed, is the biggest ever recovery in the history of NAB.
He said an amount of rupees Rs960 million was recovered from Shah besides 11 properties – which included houses in DHA and Clifton in Karachi. Whereas, Rs10 million were recovered from one Rehmat Khan, an XEN who was also involved in the same case, he said.
“Similarly, Rs653.2 million, three-and-a-half kilogramme gold, two Mercedes cars, two houses – which had been purchased with the plundered money – also had been impounded,” he said.
Chaudhry denied the impression that a huge amount of Rs40 billion was involved in the said case. An amount of Rs2.25 billion was embezzled from development projects of Rs6 billion, he said. He said NAB deposits each and every penny in the national kitty, recovered through the process of plea bargain.
“A person who confesses to his crime under the plea bargain is ineligible to take part in the national politics for a period of 10 years; he is also ineligible to take loan from any banks or financial institutions and if he is government employee, the applicant stands removed from his job routinely,” he said.
He denied that NAB receives its share in shape of money in return of a plea bargain finalised with an accused person, adding whatsoever amount is received is deposited in the national exchequer.
“The law of plea bargain not only exists in Pakistan but is also in vogue in United States, United Kingdom, India, Canada and many other countries,” he added.
The NAB chairman said under the plea bargain, NAB has so far recovered looted Rs280 billion which were deposited in the national exchequer, besides a huge amount is also returned to the affected people who had been deprived of their hard-earned money by the plunderers.
He recalled that NAB had recovered Rs3.5 billion from the ill-famed ‘Double Shah’ and returned the money to as many as 28,899 affectees who were lured by him.
“However, Mufti Ahsan, who had deprived thousands of people of Rs8 billion in the ‘Modarba Companies Scandal’, was sent to jail without a plea bargain. Therefore most of the people affected in the scam are left high and dry as their money has not been returned to them,” he said.
To another question about severe criticism on the provision of plea bargain, NAB chief said NAB is acting in accordance with the law and parliament has the authority to bring any amendment or removing the provision of plea bargain from the law.
He said the Supreme Court’s former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in 2012 gave a verdict in the Rental Power Projects case and NAB acting on the court’s order recovered Rs12 billion under the plea bargain from the owners of the RPPs. This money was deposited in the national exchequer.