LAHORE: Pakistan’s anti-graft body has summoned the country’s envoy to the US Ali Jahangir Siddiqui to question him for allegedly paying Rs 15 crore in bribe to a top government official to get the plum diplomatic post, a senior official said on Thursday.

Ambassador Siddiqui has been issued a notice to appear before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on October 19.

“The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore has summoned Siddiqui for October 19 after a transaction of Rs 15 crore between him and former principal secretary to prime minister Fawad Hasan Fawad has surfaced,” a senior official of the anti-corruption watchdog told .

He said an investigation into Fawad’s income beyond means case revealed that Siddiqui had paid him Rs 15 crore in bribe to get approval from former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for his (Siddiqui) appointment as ambassador to the US.

“The NAB has summoned Siddiqui to quiz him on October 19 at its Lahore office in relation to the charges that he transferred Rs 15 crore into the account of Fawad to get the ambassadorship,” the official said.

He said the NAB had also termed Siddiqui’s reply in another case of stock manipulation “unsatisfactory”.

“The NAB will also quiz him regarding the alleged role of his company – M/s Azgard Nine Limited (ANL) – in the manipulation of shares that caused losses of billions of rupees to the national exchequer,” the official said.

The NAB is probing affairs of the ANL with regard to siphoning off funds amounting to over Rs 200 crore in 2008, which were used to purchase an Italian Company Monte Bello SRL.

Foreign company Fairtal SRL, Sweden, was used for the deal, which suffered losses along with its shareholders.

There are also allegations that the shares of a company named Agritech Limited were sold to various financial and government institutions at a price higher than the market rate to settle loan defaults, resulting in a loss of Rs 4000 crore to various financial and government institutions, the NAB said.

The top anti-graft agency has also received an investigation report from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), which looked into this case about a decade ago.

The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) has also reportedly provided details of a business deal and a shares transaction by the ANL and Agritech Limited.

According to the SECP report, the ANL had indulged in “active manipulative trading” during the review period (2007-08).

In its report titled “On the manipulative and other prohibitive activities into ANL 2007-08”, the SECP concluded that the JS Group had orchestrated a scheme of manipulation in the scrip (primarily known as a document acknowledging debt) of the ANL during the period under review.

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had earlier lambasted former Prime Minister Abbasi for appointing Siddiqui for the diplomatic post, citing nepotism.

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