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Zardari graft cases hearing adjourned till Nov 26

Afzal Khan / 30 October 2013

An accountability court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing of six corruption cases against Asif Ali Zardari until November 26 and again issued notices to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the former president.

 Former federal law minister Farooq H Naek submitted his power of attorney on behalf of Zardari in the court informing it that the former president could not appear in court as he had to attend a conference on democracy outside the country.

Naek also sought more time from the court to prepare for the case and said he would personally apprise Zardari over the court notices. The court then issued notices to the former president and the NAB for re-opening of the corruption cases and said it could initiate ex-parte proceedings if Zardari did not appear for the next hearing.

The hearing was adjourned until November 26 with the mutual consent of NAB’s additional prosecutor general and counsel for Zardari, Farooq H Naek. The cases contain charges of kickbacks and commission from SGS PSI Company for pre-shipment inspection, grant of a licence to ARY Gold causing losses to national exchequer, receipt of illegal gratification and commission in purchase of URSUS tractors under the Awami Tractor Scheme, illegal award of a contract to Cotecna for pre-shipment, possession of assets beyond means and receipt of kickbacks from former chairman of Pakistan Steel Mills.

The Cotecna corruption reference was initially prepared by Saifur Rehman, the chairman of Ehtesab Bureau during the second government of Nawaz Sharif. Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and Zardari were the main accused and Nusrat Bhutto, former chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue AR Siddiqui and six directors of the Swiss company, Cotecna, were co-accused. Benazir Bhutto and Zardari had been accused of taking as kickback of six per cent of the total value of $131 million pre-shipment contract awarded to the Swiss company. — news@khaleejtimes.com

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