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The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will file an appeal in the Supreme Court (SC) against a Lahore High Court (LHC) decision to acquit Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case, a NAB spokesman said on Thursday.

The appeal is expected to be filed on September 15, NAB official Asim Ali Nawazish told DawnNews.

The joint investigating team (JIT) formed to probe allegations against the Sharif family in the Panamagate case had recommended that the Hudaibiya Paper Mills Case should be reopened.

Based on the recommendation, the SC in its July 28 verdict in the Panamagate case had asked the bureau to reopen the case as it filed references ub other cases. It had also questioned the role of the NAB, which had seemingly favoured the Sharifs in the Hudaibya Paper Mills case by not challenging the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) decision to quash it.

In a meeting last month, NAB had approved the filing of four references in line with the SC order, but decided not to take any action regarding Hudaibiya Paper Mills, reasoning that the case had already been decided by the Lahore High Court.

According to the Thursday announcement, NAB seems to have reassessed its strategy and decided to file an appeal with the SC regarding the decision handed down in the case.

Hudaibiya paper mills case

The 2000 Hudaibiya Paper Mills money laundering reference was initiated on the basis of an April 25, 2000 confession statement from Ishaq Dar, wherein he admitted to his role in laundering money 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.

While Nawaz Sharif was not named in the interim reference filed in March 2000, in the final reference against the Hudaibya Paper Mills — approved by then chairman NAB Khalid Maqbool — the bureau had accused Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, Shamim Akhtar, Sabiha Abbas and Maryam Nawaz.

The LHC had quashed the case in 2014 as the PML-N continued to claim that Dar's statement was taken under duress.