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Pakistan court issues arrest warrant for finance minister
November 14, 2017 / 9:56 AM / 4 days ago

Pakistan court issues arrest warrant for finance minister

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A Pakistani anti-corruption court on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for Finance Minister Ishaq Dar after the veteran politician failed to turn up for several court hearings.

Pakistan's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar gestures during a news conference to announce the economic survey of fiscal year 2016-2017, in Islamabad, Pakistan, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

The warrant comes at an awkward time for Pakistan, which wants to raise in excess of $1 billion on international debt markets through a Sukuk and a Eurobond in coming months and has been trying to woo international investors.

Dar, who has been charged with amassing wealth beyond his known sources of income, has missed three weeks of court hearings conducted by the anti-graft agency the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Judge Mohammad Bashir issued the warrant on the grounds of “continued absence” from the court, according to a court statement.

Dar, who has pleaded not guilty, is receiving medical treatment in London and now faces arrest upon his return to Pakistan.

The case has been adjourned until Nov. 21.

The charges against Dar followed an investigation into the finances of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted in July after the Supreme Court disqualified him for not declaring a small salary from his son’s off-shore company.

The finance minister is one of Sharif’s closest political allies and Dar’s son has married Sharif’s daughter. Both men deny any wrongdoing.

Dar has rejected growing calls to resign amid his legal woes and a worsening economic outlook for Pakistan, which is battling to stave off a balance of payments crisis due to dwindling foreign currency reserve and a widening current account deficit.

Dar was initially lauded for steering Pakistan out of a balance of payments crisis in 2013 and returning the nuclear-armed country toward a higher growth trajectory.

But over the past year he has faced criticism for his refusal to allow the rupee to weaken to ease macroeconomic pressures. He has also been accused of eroding the central bank’s independence.

Reporting by Saad Sayeed and Drazen Jorgic; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Robert Birsel

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