Farooqi's acquittal plea in ARY gold case rejected -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

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Farooqi’s acquittal plea in ARY gold case rejected

By Mudassir Raja

RAWALPINDI: An accountability court here on Wednesday rejected the acquittal application of Salman Farooqi, the principal secretary to President Asif Ali Zardari, in the ARY gold reference and fixed March 22 for recording the statements of prosecution witnesses.

Court-II Judge Wamiq Javed denied acquittal to the secretary saying it was too early to decide the case on merit as many witnesses have to depose before the court and certain evidence to be perused.

In his application, Mr Farooqi maintained that he never sought relief in the case under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), but on the ground that the reference against him was baseless and mala fide.

Mr Farooqi said he was implicated in the case of awarding contract for import of gold to ARY group as no prosecution witness could establish his involvement in the case in 13 years.

He claimed that he was secretary ministry of water and power, not secretary trade when the reference was filed in 1997, adding: “the baseless case ruined my career as a civil servant.”

According to the case, as secretary trade and commerce Mr Farooqi delayed, on purpose, the issuance of licences to Al-Ramzan and A-Rahim traders who should have been awarded the licences under legal obligations.

President Zardari and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto are the prime accused in the case along with Mr Farooqi and the owners of ARY group. It has been alleged that in connivance with the ARY group the accused permitted the import of gold and silver without duties between 1995 and 1997, causing billions of rupees loss to the national exchequer.
Source: Dawn
Date:3/11/2010