ISLAMABAD - The National Accountability Bureau has filed four interim corruption references against former premier Nawaz Sharif, his children and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

Out of these references, filed on Friday - the closing day of the six-week Supreme Court deadline, three are against Nawaz, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz.

One reference is about the London flats – numbered 16 and 16-A and 17 and 17-A at Avenfield House, Park Lane. The second is regarding Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Company, Jeddah, while the third reference is about Flagship Investment Limited and 15 other companies.

The fourth reference has been filed against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for holding assets beyond known sources of income.

Sources in the NAB informed The Nation that the corruption references against Nawaz Sharif and his family members were filed under Section 9-A of the NAB Ordinance and almost all the 14 sub-clauses of the section were invoked.

The section mainly deals with the illegal transaction of money and taking of gifts. In case of conviction, a person could be awarded up to 14 years imprisonment and heavy fine.

In the reference against Dar, NAB Ordinance Section 14-C was invoked, according to the sources. In case of conviction, besides imprisonment, the person could be disqualified for holding any public office for a period that could extend even for life, they added.

NAB sources confirmed that all the references are mainly based on the JIT investigation and resulting evidence in the Panama Papers case.

The documentary evidence, brought along at the registrar office of the NAB courts, comprised 12 cartons. And according to the sources in NAB, it mainly contained nine volumes of the 10-volume JIT report that had been submitted by the probe body in the apex court in connection with the Panama Papers case.

Soon after landing of the references at NAB courts registrar, some TV channels reported that there were some technical flaws in the references which NAB officials were asked to remove. But NAB spokesperson was quick to deny the news and confirm that all the four references were accepted.

The approval of these references was given a day earlier on Thursday by the executive board meeting of the NAB chaired under the head of NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry.

However, contrary to the recommendation of the investigators, NAB board turned down the plea of placing of the names of the accused on the exit control list (ECL) and freezing of the assets.

A source in the NAB said that now the court could decide on the matter of the arrest of the accused as well as the issue of placing their names on ECL and assets freeze.

Case history

The ruling PML-N had rejected the JIT report and even dubbed Sharif’s disqualification by the apex court as based on very flimsy grounds.

Later, neither former premier Nawaz Sharif nor any of his family members had joined the NAB investigation process, and the NAB investigators were left with no choice but to file the cases against them without taking their input.

As per the JIT probe, the Sharif family had given contradictory statements about their London flats and found that the flats actually belonged to them since 1993.

The report said Hassan Nawaz had contradicted the statement of his brother Hussain Nawaz about the Avenfield Apartments, who had earlier stated that only apartment No 17 was in his possession in 1994.

Contrarily, Hassan confirmed that three Avenfield apartments [No 16, 16A and 17] were already in possession of Hussain, when he had arrived in London in 1994, while they got the possession of the fourth apartment (17A) in the next six months.

The JIT observed that either one or both brothers had lied to hide some facts and hence they could not be given the benefit of the doubt.

It said Nawaz Sharif had distanced himself from the apartments and could not explain the timeframe and procedure adopted for obtaining the possession of Avenfield apartments by his sons, and was even uncertain about which son claimed the ownership of the flats now.

But he told the JIT that he usually stayed in apartment No 16 [Avenfield], whenever he visited London.

The Sharif family had established Azizia Steel Mills in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, after being forced into exile, with an initial capital of Rs7 billion.

After the death of the family head Mian Mohammad Sharif, the mills was sold to an Al-Tuwairqi Group conglomerate.

In his statement before the JIT, Hussain Nawaz said that $0.65 million had been spent on purchasing the land and $6m spent on it, and that money was received from Qatari adjustment and one unnamed Saudi friend gave $8m for the purpose.

He did not give any details of these transactions.

According to the JIT, Hussain Nawaz’s Hill Metal Company earned a profit of $9,977,882 from 2010 to 2015, and $4,042,603 had been sent to Nawaz Sharif during that period.

The former premier received $8,913,301 in terms of gifts from the company and Hussain, which equals to 88 per cent profit of the company.

Hussain Nawaz also made remittances of around Rs69.228m to his sister from HME in 2008 and 2009, the JIT report said.

Sixteen other offshore companies owned by the Sharif family are: Flagship Investments, Hartstone Properties, Que Holdings, Quint Eaton Place 2, Quint Saloane, Quaint, Flagship Securities, Quint Gloucester Place, Quint Paddington, Flagship Developments, Alanna Services (BVI), Lankin SA (BVI), Chadron, Ansbacher, Coomber and Capital FZE (Dubai).

 

NAB files graft cases against Sharifs, Dar

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 09-Sep-2017 here.