ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday furnished the Supreme Court with records of two corruption references filed against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other members of his family over a decade ago.
The documents, filed on behalf of NAB Prosecutor General Waqas Qadeer Dar, came a day before the NAB chairman was due to appear in court.
The submissions consist of two references, Nos 5 and 7, which were approved by then NAB Chairman Lt Gen Syed Mohammad Amjad in the year 2000.
One deals with the Hudaibiya Paper Mills scam, while the other related to the illegal construction of the Sharif family’s Raiwind Estate.
A five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa has summoned NAB chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chief Dr Mohammad Irshad to appear in person today (Tuesday) to inform it about the measures taken by their departments in the aftermath of the Panama Papers leaks.
The NAB chairman will specifically be asked to provide details about the 2000 Hudaibiya Paper Mills money laundering reference, which was initiated on the basis of an April 25, 2000 confession by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, where he admitted to his role in alleged money laundering to the tune of $14.86 million, on behalf of the Sharifs through fictitious accounts. The witness was, however, pardoned by the then NAB chairman.
NAB, FBR chiefs to appear in court today to explain actions taken in wake of Panama Papers leaks
While the prime minister was not named in the interim reference filed in March 2000, in the final reference against the Hudaibya Paper Mills — approved by Chairman NAB Khalid Maqbool — the bureau had accused Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, Mrs Shamim Akhtar, Mrs Sabiha Abbas and Maryam Nawaz.
The reference suggested an unexplained investment of Rs642.74 million, which appeared in the share deposit books of the company, which was allegedly fraudulently amassed by the directors under the garb of foreign equity investment.
In Nov 1999, the company settled its loan with the Al-Towfeek Company for Investment Funds, London, by making a payment of $8.7 million and the source of this payment also appeared suspect.
The total paid-up capital of the company prior to the influx of Rs642.74 million was only Rs95.7 million, the reference highlighted, maintaining that the company had been sustaining losses over the years which, in 1998, amounted to a staggering Rs809.83 million.
In such a scenario, the reference stated, it was unusual for the company to attract such a large investment.
The reference alleged that the prime minister and the chief minister had allegedly opened fictitious foreign currency accounts to launder and conceal allegedly ill-gotten wealth in the names of different individuals, with the connivance of some of their associates and employees.
The amounts that were deposited in the accounts stood unexplained and appeared to be beyond the known sources of income of the accused individuals, the reference maintained, adding that the fraudulent deposits were used by the accused as collateral to obtain loans from different financial institutions.
Subsequently, the same deposits were released, encashed and their proceeds used to adjust financial facilities availed by different companies owned by the accused.
Raiwind estate case
Lahore High Court referee judge Justice Sardar Shamim had quashed the Raiwind Estate reference on March 11, 2014 on the grounds that if re-investigation was allowed, it would provide investigators an opportunity to pad up lacunas. Later, NAB decided not to challenge the high court’s decision before the Supreme Court.
Advocate Naeem Bokhari, who represents Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, had asked that NAB be directed to file a belated appeal before the Supreme Court to re-open the references against the Sharifs.
The Raiwind Estate reference, moved against Mrs Shamim Akhtar and Mian Nawaz Sharif, alleged that 401 kanals of land were acquired by the accused for the construction of palatial mansions and other ancillary buildings, surrounded by a high boundary wall.
The construction, the reference said, appeared to have been carried out between 1992 and 1999.
Nespak was asked to carry out a survey and provide an estimate of the cost of the land, houses, structures and other buildings located at the Raiwind Estate.
As per its report, the investments and expenditures on the construction of the buildings and structures erected amounted to an estimated Rs247.4 million. A sum of Rs171.2 million was apparently paid by the prime minister for the construction of his own and his brother Shahbaz’ house, the reference alleged.
The reference maintained that the income of the accused according to income tax returns filed between 1992 and 2000, amounted to Rs41.2 million, over Rs200 million less than the actual expenditure on the property.
But Justice Shamim had maintained that since Nawaz Sharif was not made part of the investigation, which was initiated while he was incarcerated, a reinvestigation could not be allowed.
Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2017