November 22, 2017 / 7:10 PM / a year ago

Facing graft probe, Pakistan Finance Minister relieved of duties

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/Files

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has been relieved of his duties, local media said on Wednesday, following speculation about his future after he failed to appear in court to answer corruption charges.

Documents seen by Reuters show Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi granted Dar sick leave on Wednesday, while local TV channels Geo and Samaa said he had been relieved of his portfolio. Dar would keep his status as a minister for the time being, Geo reported.

Dar, who is receiving medical treatment in London for a heart condition, has an arrest warrant issued against him after he missed multiple court appearances on charges that he had amassed wealth beyond his known sources of income.

The case had, along with Pakistan’s worsening economic outlook, led to mounting calls for him to resign. The country is battling to stave off balance of payments pressures due to a dwindling foreign currency reserve and a widening current account deficit.

A spokesman for the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could Dar.

He has missed more than three weeks of court hearings conducted by the anti-graft agency, the National Accountability Bureau.

Dar’s absence had come at an awkward time for Pakistan, which has been trying to woo international investors as it looks to raise in excess of $1 billion on debt markets through a Sukuk and a Eurobond in coming months.

Additional reporting by Saad Sayeed; writing by Drazen Jorgic; editing by John Stonestreet

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