Rawalpindi: Swiss national declared proclaimed offender
RAWALPINDI: The accountability court on Saturday declared Jens Schlegilmitch, a Swiss national, as proclaimed offender and issued permanent arrest warrants for him in Societe Generale Surveillance (SGS) reference.
The court, however, acquitted former Central Board of Revenue chairman in the case.
The prosecution alleged that the accused received kickbacks through the offshore bank accounts of Jens Schlegilmitch, Bomer Finance Inc., Mariston Securities Inc. and Nassam Overseas Inc. Eight Swiss directors of the SGS Company–Colin Robey, then vice-president; Oliver De Breakeleer, then managing director; Michael Lysewycs, executive manager; Michael Worrow, operation manager; David Murray, operation manager; William Boyd, technical manager; R. Rijken, manager; and Andrea Ralph, manager– were also involved in this case.
Giving verdict in SGS reference, Judge Mian Altaf Hussain Mahar said the prosecution had failed to prove charges against former Central board of Revenue chairman A. R. Siddiqui.
Declaring Jens Schlegelmichn proclaimed offender, the judge said despite several notices the Swiss did not appear before the court.
The court suspended the hearing and said that the hearing into SGS case would resume after arrest of the accused and end of the immunity to President Asif Ali Zardari.
During the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif`s second tenure, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), then Ehtisab Bureau, prepared the corruption reference against former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her spouse and now President Asif Ali Zardari in 1998 accusing them of awarding a pre-shipment inspection contract to the SGS in return for six per cent commission of the total amount received by the company from the government of Pakistan.
In 1999, the accountability court awarded three years rigorous imprisonment to Benazir Bhutto which was undone by the Supreme Court terming the sentence politically motivated.
In 2009, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) withdrew the cases against President Asif Ali Zardari under National Reconciliation Ordinance 2007 (NRO-2007). However, in December 2009, the Supreme Court declared NRO-2007 null and void and asked the NAB to reopen the cases against President Asif Ali Zardari and other beneficiaries.
Commenting on the court verdict, President Asif Ali Zardari`s spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said that it proved once and for all the contention of Benazir Bhutto that the SGS was a politically motivated case aimed at keeping her out of politics and punishing Asif Ali Zardari for being her spouse.
He said that former premier had always rejected the allegations that the companies or accounts of those companies belonged to her.
Mr Babar recalled BB`s statement before the Investigation Magistrate in Geneva in 2005 in which she had stated that the pre-shipment inspection contract was awarded transparently. More than half of a decade after deposition before the Swiss Magistrate the accountability court has vindicated her. He also recalled the discovery of the tape transcripts in 2001 that proved that the sentencing order had been written by the prosecution for the Judge to sign.
“The verdict shows how anti-people forces all along sought to eliminate Bhuttos and keep them away from the people of Pakistan through allegations based on bogus documents, followed by inquiries, regurgitating allegations and orchestrated media trials,” he said.