ISLAMABAD - The imminent reopening of Hudaibiya Papers Mills probe by Supreme Court will surely add to the problems of Sharif family, which is already in troubled waters facing trial in accountability court on multiple charges of corruption.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who also heading the larger five-member bench had handed down judgement in Panama Papers case, will initiate the hearing on National Accountability Bureau plea of getting investigation into Hudaibiya Papers Mills case as some relevant facts about the case had surfaced during the course of investigation into alleged corruption and money laundering by Sharif family by JIT.

NAB Prosecutor General Waqas Qadeer Dar had filed an application under Article 185(3) of the constitution seeking permission of reopening of the investigation in the changed scenario where some important facts about the case had surfaced during the course of investigation by JIT in alleged corruption of the Sharif family.

Earlier to the annoyance of apex court the then Chairman NAB Qamar Zaman Chaudhry had refused to move court for reopening of the Hudaibiya Papers Mills Reference and justified the decision of NAB of not challenging the Lahore High Court decision to quash the case on the petition of Nawaz Sharif.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who was heading the five-member bench hearing the Panama Papers case, came up with adverse remarks about NAB and dubbed it a deadwood.

But later in the light of the JIT findings and input from the legal branch, which approved to move the apex court to seek reopening of the case in the changed scenario, the NAB had finally filed a writ petition in the apex court which would be taken up for hearing on Monday.

The Hudaibiya Papers Mills Reference was quashed by the Lahore High Court in 2014 and under the law the NAB was required to challenge the decision in apex court within 30 days of the issuance of detailed judgement or maximum up to 90-day time and now it was a time barred transaction. But legal experts said that the apex court could condone the period provided the NAB comes up with some solid reasons for getting the probe into the matter reopened.

In the given circumstances the NAB has sufficient grounds to get condoned the time period for filing an appeal against the LHC judgement in the case as startling disclosures had been made in the JIT findings in Panama Papers case which were quite relevant to Hudaibiya Papers Mills case.

As the five-member larger bench, which had heard the Panama Papers case also suspected the NAB move of not filing appeal against the LHC verdict on quashment of the Hudaibiya case dubious, the chances of getting relief on this count are bright.

The case has acquired political significance as well because after expected reopening of Hudaibiya Papers Mills investigation Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz Sharif would also come under the probe net of NAB.

In the Hudaibiya Reference besides Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, their late brother Abbas Sharif and his spouse Sabiha Abbas, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, Shamim Akhtar, and Maryam Nawaz were among the accused. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is now also part of the list of accused as initially his name was deleted from the list of accused when he had turned approver in the case but later after flying out of the country he retracted from his statement he had recorded before a magistrate under Section 164 CrPC.

Interestingly, when the interim reference was filed in March 2000 the name of Nawaz Sharif was not in the accused list but as Ishaq Dar, who was in NAB custody at that time turned approver and recorded his statement under Section 164 CrPC before a first class magistrate the name of Nawaz Sharif also included in the list as he confessed that he had laundered money for Sharif brothers.

According to the case record Ishaq Dar had recorded his confessional statement on April 25, 2000 and confessed that he had been instrumental in money laundering to the tune of $14.86 million through fictitious accounts.

Legal experts said that Ishaq Dar would also be in deep trouble as by retracting from his confessional statement he would automatically become accused in the case.

As in December 2000 Nawaz Sharif along with his family was sent into exile under some clandestine and controversial deal with the military dictator General Pervez Musharraf all the cases against him and his other family members were adjourned sane die.

Later, the status of these cases remained same even after his landing back to the country and on a couple of occasions when NAB had initiated some move to get these corruption references reopened the Sharif family had moved appellate courts to get the process stayed.

In 2011 Nawaz Sharif along with other respondents in the case moved Lahore High Court to get Hudaibiya Papers Mills Reference quashed. The division bench of Lahore High Court unanimously decided in favour of quashment of the case but on the issue of reinvestigation into the case both the judges disagreed and consequently the matter was referred to refree judge who decided against the reinvestigation into the matter.

In 2014 the case was quashed with the direction that reinvestigation into the matter was not allowed as well. The then NAB Chairman decided not to go into appeal against the decision of Lahore High Court as according to their official stance the legal team of the NAB saw little chances of their winning the case from apex court.

It was the same position Chairman NAB had taken when the five-member larger bench hearing the Panama Papers revelation case put him the question of not going into appeal against the LHC decision.

According the case record, the reference suggested an unexplained investment of Rs642.74 million, which appeared in the share deposit books of the company, which was allegedly fraudulently amassed by the directors under the garb of foreign equity investment.

In Nov 1999, the company settled its loan with the Al-Towfeek Company for Investment Funds, London, by making a payment of $8.7 million and the source of this payment also appeared dubious.

The total paid up capital of the company prior to the influx of Rs642.74 million was only Rs95.7 million, the reference highlighted, maintaining that the company had been sustaining losses over the years which, in 1998, amounted to a staggering Rs809.83 million.

 

Another trouble

awaits Sharifs