LAHORE - A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) Monday granted bail to PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz in Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) case.

The two-member bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem rejected NAB’s plea against the petitioner and granted her bail.

As per the court decision, Maryam could avail the relief after furnishing two surety bonds worth Rs10 million each, depositing an additional Rs70 million and after submitting her passport.

A spokesperson of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said the anti-corruption institution will file an appeal against the LHC decision.

NAB had arrested Maryam and her cousin Yousaf Abbas in the sugar mills case on August 8. An accountability court sent them to jail on judicial remand on Sept 25, rejecting NAB’s request for extension in their physical remand, which had continued for 48 days.

The PML-N vice president approached the LHC on Sept 30 for post-arrest bail.

After her father, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was admitted to Services Hospital following deterioration of health, Maryam submitted a petition on Oct 24 seeking immediate bail on humanitarian grounds.

Last month her ailing father had been granted bail by the Islamabad High Court on medical and humanitarian grounds in Al-Azizia case, in which he has been serving a jail term.

The LHC bench reserved the verdict on Maryam’s plea on Oct 31 and announced it on Nov 4 in open court.

The court asked Maryam to surrender her passport to satisfy “judicial conscience”, as the NAB had expressed apprehension that she would leave the country if bail was granted.

Earlier, during the arguments, the NAB representative opposed Maryam’s bail and termed her application non-maintainable, saying that neither there were any extraordinary circumstances nor was it a case of hardship.

He submitted that it was not a case of double jeopardy as the case was not a subject matter of joint investigation team (JIT) formed by the apex court in Panama case. The issue in which suspicious transactions in Chaudhry Sugar Mills accounts were reported in 2018 started on the basis of a Financial Monitoring Unit report, he maintained.

The NAB prosecutor said that Maryam’s assets increased rapidly during the 90’s and she possessed assets beyond her known sources of income.

According to him, she possessed 6 percent shares of Chaudhry Sugar Mills in 1995, which dropped to 4 percent in 2001 but then those surged to 47 percent in 2008. During the investigation, she failed to explain to NAB how these shares were accumulated, he added.

On the court query, the NAB official said, money laundering was an aspect of the case whereas there were also allegations of corruption and corrupt practices against the petitioner, adding that the mills’ accounts were used for the purpose.

Referring to various sections of Anti-Money Laundering Act-2010, the lawyer argued that NAB, besides other agencies, had been given powers to investigate the money laundering cases.

He also argued that the accused failed to explain sources of $4.8 million received from Nasir Abdullah Lotha’s company in United Arab Emirates, in addition to the money laundering of Rs230 million.

NAB prosecutor said that the amounts were transferred from abroad in accounts of Yousaf Abass and Abdul Aziz Abass and later transferred to the accounts of the sugar mills in which she was a shareholder and beneficiary.

When the court pointed out that although Nawaz Sharif’s name was mentioned in the suspicious transactions, Maryam Nawaz’s name did not appear in the same.

The official said that Maryam had been accused of abetment in commission of offence. She was beneficiary in all assets whereas she also remained a director of the mills, he added.

The petitioner’s counsel Amjad Pervaiz denied the NAB allegations, saying that Maryam did not have any shares in the sugar mills since 2016.

The court asked NAB lawyer how the amount transferred to Yousaf Abbas from Nasir Abdullah Lotha could be linked with corruption.

The official responded that she was bound to prove that the money was not obtained through corruption but she failed to give any satisfactory reply.

The court also asked whether Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) held any inquiry into the issue. He replied that SECP was not bound to take action against corruption as the commission was a regulatory body.

After hearing the arguments the court reserved the verdict last Thursday and announced it on Monday, allowing bail to PML-N leader.