ISLAMABAD/Lahore - The National Accountability Bureau has frozen assets of former premier Nawaz Sharif, his children, son-in-law and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, it was learnt on Wednesday.

Letters were dispatched by the corruption watchdog to banks, excise department, deputy commissioners [of Islamabad and Lahore], and to Lahore Development Authority [LDA] and Capital Development Authority [CDA] to check any possible transference of properties, vehicles and valuables.

Hours before the electronic media aired the news of Sharifs’ assets freeze late Wednesday, a NAB Lahore team visited the official residence of Dar to serve a notice - soon after the issuance of bailable arrest warrants for the minister, who is currently in London.

NAB Spokesman Asim Ali Nawazish however rejected the impression that it was a ‘raid’. “NAB team has not raided the house of Ishaq Dar. They went only for delivering a court notice which they did as per law. Media is requested to avoid airing unverified news,” he said.

NAB is pursuing references against the former first family of Pakistan and Ishaq Dar under the orders of the Supreme Court which disqualified Nawaz Sharif in a corruption probe earlier this year.

The July judgment came after investigators found enough evidence for ex-premier and his family to be prosecuted over their ownership of luxury residences in London as well as offshore companies, revealed in the Panama Papers leaks and subsequent JIT investigation.

The bureau has filed three corruption references against Nawaz Sharif, his sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz and daughter Maryam and her husband Capt (r) Muhammad Safdar in the accountability courts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Also on the Supreme Court orders, NAB has filed a fourth reference against Dar for accumulation of assets beyond his known sources of income.

The disqualified premier and his family members were summoned by the accountability court twice but none of them appeared. Notices for appearance were then reissued for September 26.

All the members of Sharif family are in London to take care of Nawaz’s wife Begum Kalsoom Nawaz, who is receiving treatment for lymphoma - cancer of lymph nodes; so, it is unclear if they would appear on next hearing.

The Sharifs could also choose to avoid the appearance, terming the process political victimisation as Nawaz had already called the court verdict against him to be the result of a conspiracy against him.

Days after his disqualification, he took out a three-day rally from Islamabad to Lahore, addressing in multiple cities on the way denying corruption allegations and demanding the people to have their vote respected.

The recent developments show that the relevant authorities are in no mood to slow down the push against the family, and the measure of assets freeze comes as the latest blow the accused.

Assets freeze is a legal process which prevents a defendant from dissipating their assets from beyond the jurisdiction of a court so as to frustrate a potential judgment.

As for the Dar, a NAB letter sent to him on Wednesday reads: “It may be noted that any transfer/sale alienation of any property, in any manner, whatsoever is punishable under Section 23 (b) of National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.”

The letter mentioned Section 23 (b) of NAO 1999 which states: “any person who transfer, or creates a change on property in contravention of sub section (a) shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine not exceeding the value of property involved.

“Provided that such transfer of any right, title or interest or creation of a change on such property shall not be void if made with the approval of the court, subject to such terms and conditions as the court may deem fit.”

Earlier in the day, the accountability court issued bailable warrants for the minister on the request of NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzzafar for former’s failure to appear in the court.

A senior official of the bureau told The Nation that following the accountability court instructions, the NAB team headed by Investigation Officer Imran Dogar dropped the court summons at Dar’s residence in the Ministers Colony. The team had intimated the Secretariat Police beforehand, he added.