LHC rejects bail applications of Hamesh and Sheikh Afzal

LAHORE: A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC), comprising Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry and Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sidhu on Tuesday rejected bail application of Bank of Punjab’s (BoP) former president, Hamesh Khan, and the owner of Haris Steel Mills, Sheikh Afzal, both said to be involved in a Rs 9 billion loan scandal.The bench said that the court was well aware of the fact that it took months for the Supreme Court (SC) to have the accused persons arrested through issuance of red warrants. The bench remarked that the accused individuals might try to escape once again if released on bail.Khan’s counsel, Mehmood A Sheikh, said that his client was innocent and there was no proof against him. He submitted that more than one officer had investigated the case and there were several different versions of it, hence, the applicant could not be held behind bars.He submitted that Khan had left the country to save his life since despite being on an interim bail, raids were being conducted in order to arrest him. The counsel said that the loans in question were issued in the absence of the applicant and he had suspended seven persons, including a general manager, over the mismanagement and had referred the matter to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).Separately, Afzal’s counsel, Ahmad Owais, said that the applicant was not linked with the Harris Steel Mill when the loan scandal took place. He only sought the concession of bail because he was falsely involved in the case and did not enjoy good health, the counsel said.BoP’s counsel, Maqsooma Bukhari, while opposing the bail application, said that both the applicants had been declared guilty in a report presented before the SC by an independent committee.

Earlier, the NAB’s counsel had submitted a reply regarding the petition in which he said that Hamesh Khan was the main accused in the BoP loan scandal and he had issued loans of billions of rupees on bogus papers so he should not be granted concession of bail.He said that Khan had caused loss to the bank and as such the relief of bail could not be given to him. The NAB had also filed a reference on September 27, 2007, against 12 people, including six officials from the BoP and six others accused, in the loan scandal.After filing of the reference, Khan’s name was put on the Exit Control List (ECL), irrespective of which he managed to flee the country in July 2008. However, Khan was arrested in the US following Pakistan’s request to the Interpol and was extradited to Pakistan. – Dailytimes