ISLAMABAD: Since 2014, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has closed 129 cases against different politicians, including 12 cases involving the Sharif family, according to the report of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing money laundering allegations against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members.

According to the JIT report, these cases were instituted in the year 2000 were currently ‘dormant’.

NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, in his appearance before the JIT on July 5, apprised the investigation team about the status of these cases.

He said that 285 cases against politicians were pending with NAB, including 21 involving the Sharif family.

12 cases involving Sharif family also closed; London flats case still pending

A senior NAB official told Dawn that in 2006, then-chairman retired Lt-Gen Shahid Aziz halted proceedings against all the politicians when retired General Pervez Musharraf was about to issue the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

Consequently, there was no progress on these cases since 2006 and in Feb 2014, the incumbent chairman constituted a team to revisit these cases.

The NAB chairman had told the JIT that he ordered these cases be re-examined and as a result, “this pendency [was] reduced to 56 cases, which included 9 cases of the Sharif family and 47 cases related to other politicians”.

Mr Chaudhry also told the JIT that “cases related to Nawaz Sharif and [his] family were pending right from the beginning due to the reason that the accused persons were not available in the country and their stance regarding the matter under investigation could not have been taken (sic).”

He said: “the cases which are pending with NAB also include the case pertaining to Avenfield properties”.

The NAB chairman, in his appearance before the Supreme Court on Feb 22 during the Panama Papers case, did not disclose this information when the apex court grilled him over his decision to not appeal the quashment of a reference against the Sharifs by the Lahore High Court (LHC).

However, on Feb 10, NAB had already submitted a civil miscellaneous application (CMA), which mentioned the ongoing investigations of the London properties.

In the CMA, the bureau stated that “in 1999, information about [the Avenfield properties] was shared with NAB, which was referred to [Federal Investigation Agency] for investigation. FIA DG, however, expressed inability to proceed further for lack of basic incriminating material… the issue remained dormant during exile period of Sharif family. The matter was re-activiated by NAB to proceed further, but due to lack of basic requirements for seeking Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) from foreign countries, this issue could not be materialised.”

It further stated: “in various cases, the UK Central Authority declined to extend MLA without provision of basic information tabulated in MLA Guidelines for Foreign Authorities”.

Mr Chaudhry had told the apex court that after LHC quashed the case, then-Prosecutor General K.K. Agha did not recommend challenging the order before the Supreme Court.

A NAB official said the Supreme Court did not take up the CMA where NAB highlighted the investigation on London properties, nor did the chairman tell the bench about this case.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2017