LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has summoned Pakistan’s ambassador-designate to the United States Ali Jahangir Siddiqui over the allegations of financial misappropriation inflicting heavy damage on the national exchequer. A notice issued by the watchdog has asked Siddiqui to appear before the Lahore bureau on March 22 over allegations of causing a loss of Rs 40 billion to the investors. Among the charges initially leveled against the investment banker is that Siddiqui, as director of the investment firm Azgard Nine Ltd, syphoned off funds amounting to €23.758 million in 2008 for the purchase of an Italian company, Monte Bello SRL, using a foreign company, Fairytal SRL Sweden, which resulted in a loss to the company and the shareholders. Siddiqui, who will be succeeding Aizaz Chaudhry as ambassador to US, will also be asked about sale of shares of Agritech Ltd to different financial and government institutions by Azgard Nine Ltd at a price higher than the market to settle the loan defaults of the company, which resulted in an approximate loss of Rs 40 billion to the institutions. In 2016, a Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) report claimed that the price of shares of Azgard Nine Ltd was artificially increased from Rs 24 to Rs 70 and subsequent payments were also made to an unidentified party. Siddiqui, whose name also appeared in the Panama Papers, is currently serving as special adviser to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and is scheduled to assume his new responsibilities as Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington next month. Siddiqui also holds a directorship at the Airblue, a firm for which premier Abbasi served as chief operating officer. Moreover, Ali’s brother is the son-in-law of media mogul Mir Shakilur Rehman. Previously, he served as executive director at the JS Investments Ltd and as a director at the Crosby. Published in Daily Times, March 17th 2018.