Verdict reserved on Sharifs’ petitions
RAWALPINDI: The Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench reserved its order on Monday on petitions filed by PML-N chief Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and nine other members of his family seeking quashing of three corruption references pending in accountability courts in this city since 2000.
The application was filed in October last year.
The LHC restrained the accountability courts on Oct 18, 2011, from proceeding against the petitioners till a decision on the matter.
The National Accountability Bureau’s prosecutors completed their arguments in the Hudaibia Paper Mills reference on Monday.
Arguments in the Ittefaq Foundry and Raiwind assets references had been completed earlier.
NAB’s Additional Deputy Prosecutor General Chaudhry Riaz Ahmad told the court that the Sharif family was involved in money laundering of Rs1.242 billion in the case.
He said the petitioners’ counsel had insisted that the accountability courts had not been able to conclude the cases that had been pending for 12 years but the Sharif family had not challenged the veracity of the evidence in the 11-volume reference.
He said the investigation report prepared by a NAB officer contained a statement recorded by former finance minister Ishaq Dar before a magistrate in 2000 as an approver.
The statement clearly indicated that several bogus bank accounts had been opened on the instructions of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif and ill-gotten money had been deposited in them and later transferred to their accounts.
The prosecutor said four persons had stated that they had nothing to do with those accounts and they had been used as a tool.
The investigation report contained the record of all bank transactions made during the period in question, he said.
About the delay in the case, he said the petitioners had neither been summoned nor arrested and NAB had completed its investigation on time and submitted the case to the accountability court that was following the legal process.
In response to a court observation that the investigation report did not contain the defence’s version, he prosecutor said the Sharif family had joined the proceedings 11 years after the reference had been filed.
He said the bureau was ready to record the defence version that would be made a part of the record.
He said NAB had filed an application for reopening the references in 2010 and this year, so there had been no delay on its part.
He said the court might issue directives to NAB to record the defence version and it would comply with the orders.
The Sharif family’s counsel Khawaja Harris Ahmed had argued earlier that NAB was seeking resumption of hearing of the references before the general elections with was tantamount to political victimisation. He said the bureau had made a similar move in 2007 when the chief of the Pakistan Muslim League-N had announced his plan to return to the country before the last elections.
The Hudaibia reference is based on allegations that the accused deposited ill-gotten money in accounts opened in other persons’ names and used it to pay off loans of their companies. Mian Muhammad Sharif, Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, Shamim Akhtar, Sabiha Abbas, Maryam Safdar and Ishaq Dar are accused in the case.
According to the Rs247.352 million Raiwind reference, the accused acquired vast tracts of land and built a number of palatial houses and mansions with pecuniary resources which appeared to be grossly disproportionate to their known sources of income. Nawaz Sharif and his mother Shamim Akhtar are the accused.
In the Rs1.063 billion Ittefaq Foundries reference, Nawaz Sharif, his brother Abbas Sharif and Kamal Qureshi are accused of defaulting on payback of finance obtained from the National Bank in 1994.