In a blow to the credibility of the anti-corruption watchdog, the World Bank on Tuesday rejected the claim that its two-year-old report on remittances levelled $4.9 billion money laundering allegations against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The local office of the Washington-based multilateral agency issued the press release hours after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) announced the launch of an inquiry against Sharif into money laundering allegations.
NAB on Tuesday spurred to action about two years after a private TV channel alleged that $4.9 billion was laundered from Pakistan to India in 2016.
“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,” according to the World Bank.
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 WB handout.
The bank’s denial has served a serious blow to the credibility of NAB that took an extreme step of launching money laundering inquiry against Sharif without first verifying the facts.
The denial would also give a major boost to the beleaguered former prime minister who has been complaining against ‘witch-hunting’ by NAB and courts.
The former prime minister, who has been disqualified by the Supreme Court for concealing facts, is already facing NAB references in an accountability court.
However, an inquiry into money laundering allegations would have created serious problems for him amid global drive against money laundering and terror financing.
The allegations might also create problems for the country. The Financial Action Task Force has already decided to place Pakistan on a list of the countries that financially support terrorism, with effect from June.
The money laundering allegations against the then sitting prime minister would have further weakened Pakistan’s case in the eyes of the international community.
The media reports claimed that a record of $4.9 billion money laundering by Sharif existed in the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances book of 2016.
The reports further claimed that the injection of such an amount into India’s foreign reserves resulted in an increase in their resources for which Pakistan is still suffering.
But the World Bank stated that in this report the bank had estimated bilateral remittances between countries using the methodology summarised in the World Bank paper on South-South migration and remittances.
The NAB’s notice was more surprising given the fact that the Statue Bank of Pakistan has already rejected the allegations of $4.9 billion money laundering on September 21, 2016.
In 2016, the direct remittances from Pakistan to India were less than $200,000.
A NAB press release says the corruption watchdog has decided to launch an investigation into ‘serious’ allegations of money laundering against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, taking notice of the money laundering allegations, has ordered an investigation against Sharif, it adds.
According to the press release, the chairman took notice of the reports on news channels claiming that Sharif laundered almost $ 5 billion to India.
Once formulated, this will be the fifth case against the ousted premier by NAB.