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World Bank denies Sharif laundered $4.9 bn to India

Washington, May 9 (IANS) The World Bank has rejected Pakistani media reports about former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif laundering $4.9 billion to India.

The local office of the Washington-based multilateral agency issued the press release hours after Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog — the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) — on Tuesday announced the launch of an inquiry against Sharif over money laundering allegations.

The NAB swung into action about two years after a private TV channel alleged that $4.9 billion was laundered from Pakistan to India in 2016, according to a report by the Express Tribune.

“In the past day, there have been media reports citing the World Bank’s Remittances and Migration Report of 2016. These media reports are incorrect,” the World Bank said in a statement.

It added that the World Bank’s Remittances and Migration Report was an effort to estimate migration and remittances numbers across the world.

“The report does not include any mention of money laundering nor does it name any individuals,” according to the World Bank handout.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday strongly criticised the NAB for launching the probe. Abbasi, while addressing the National Assembly, asked the House to constitute a committee which would summon the NAB Chairman and investigate the allegations.

The Premier said that the institution had “overstepped its domain”. The country will not function if institutions will work in this way, Abbasi said.

Earlier Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan also criticised the NAB. Syed Naveed Qamar of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said he partially disagreed with the idea of summoning the NAB Chairman and held it tantamount to interference in NAB affairs.

The World Bank also referred to a statement by the State Bank of Pakistan which rejected estimates of $4.9 billion in remittances from Pakistan to India on September 21, 2016, and provided an explanation of the methodology used in the World Bank report and the official remittances numbers.

The World Bank’s denial would also give a major boost to Sharif who has been complaining against “witch-hunting” by the NAB and courts.

The former Prime Minister, disqualified by the Supreme Court for concealing facts, is already facing NAB references in an accountability court.

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