RAWALPINDI, Oct 8: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday informed Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench that the Sharif family is a defaulter of Rs3.8 billion in one of the three corruption references against it.
The division bench of the LHC, comprising Justice Khwaja Imtiaz Ahmed and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, was hearing petitions seeking quashment of the three corruption references relating to the Hudaibya Paper Mills, Ittefaq Foundries and Raiwind assets – prepared by NAB against PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and his family members.
The amount was mentioned in a report submitted to the court by NAB’s additional deputy prosecutor general Chaudhry Mohammad Riaz. The report was compiled by a consortium of banks the Ittefaq Foundries had procured the loans from.
It showed that the total receivable of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) from the family by December 2011 was Rs2.31 billion, Habib Bank Rs336 million, United Bank Rs343 million, Muslim Commercial Bank Rs456.1 million, First Punjab Modarba Rs202 million, Bank of Punjab Rs95 million, ZTBL Rs60 million, NIB (formerly PICIC) Rs27 million and ICBP Rs8 million.
Salman Butt, the counsel for the Sharif family, told the court that the actual value of the Ittefaq Foundries was almost double of what the banks are owed.
Referring to the statistics provided to the court by NAB, he said the value of the assets of Ittefaq Foundries was still more than Rs6 billion while its liabilities were not over Rs4 billion.
He said Nawaz Sharif on June 30, 1998, had offered the assets of Ittefaq Foundries to the banks and both the parties even entered into an agreement for handing and taking over of the assets.
The matter was taken to the LHC for determination of the liabilities towards the foundries, which in July 1998 constituted a six-member committee, headed by a senior NBP official, for evolving a strategy to take over the assets. However, the counsel added, on October 12, 1999, the PML-N government was dismissed in a coup and the military ruler converted this simple matter into a complex corruption reference.
Advocate Butt said that Basharat Shahzad, the investigation officer of NAB, went beyond his jurisdiction and determined the liabilities of the foundries on his own though the LHC had already constituted the committee for this purpose.
He said the Ittefaq Foundries reference was finalised on February 14, 2000, and the same day the then NAB chairman not only approved the case but also forwarded it to the accountability court.
The lawyer alleged that the government was using NAB references to defame the PML-N leadership as the 2013 general elections approached, as it was done in 2008 by the then regime.
The counsel said that after the 2008 polls the matter was kept in the cold storage for over four years. He alleged that rival governments had always been victimising the Sharif family for over four decades. “Zulfikar Ali Bhutto nationalised the Ittefaq Foundries without giving any compensation to the family, causing a loss of Rs143 million to the owners,” he maintained.