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LAHORE: A National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team arrived in London on Wednesday to record statements of some ‘important witnesses’ and collect evidence of the Sharif family’s Avenfield properties.

According to a NAB official, the team included members of the bureau’s combined investigation team that had prepared four corruption and money laundering references against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his sons Hassan and Hussain, daughter Maryam and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar, and one reference against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for having assets beyond his known sources of income.

“During its stay [in London] the team will contact the UK authorities to seek reply to its queries regarding the Sharif family’s Avenfield properties. Besides, it will reach out to some important witnesses to record their statements ahead of the indictment of the Sharif family members,” the official said.

Earlier, NAB had written letters to the UK authorities in connection with the mutual legal agreement seeking details of the Sharif family’s Avenfield flats 16, 16-A, 17, 17-A, Avenfield House, Park Lane, London.

The ‘Volume-10’ of the Supreme Court-appointed Joint Investigation Team’s report is said to have dealt with the mutual legal business agreements between the Sharif family and different foreign governments.

“The team is positive to gather evidence and witnesses related to the case,” the official said.

When contacted, the NAB spokesman refused to comment on the bureau team’s departure for London.

Advocate Amjad Pervez, a counsel for the Sharif family, told Dawn on Wednesday that the NAB team must fulfil legal requirements in this case. “We have no objection till NAB meets the legal requirement in the case here or abroad. Going to London to collect some of kind of evidence about the Sharif family’s properties and recording statements of so-called witnesses should be open to cross-examination [in the court]. It will be seen how credible testimony of the witnesses NAB is looking for [in London],” Mr Pervez said.

An accountability court in Islamabad may indict Maryam and her husband Safdar in three graft cases on Thursday (today). Nawaz Sharif will not be chargesheeted as he is in London to be with his wife Begum Kulsoom who is undergoing chemotherapy in connection with lymphoma (throat cancer).

Under the law, a suspect cannot be indicted in absentia.

National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Wednesday insisted that Mr Sharif would return to face accountability once the condition of his wife improved.

NAB has initiated the process of declaring Mr Sharif’s sons proclaimed offenders on the order of the accountability court. They have been given a deadline of Nov 10 to appear before the court in the graft cases, otherwise they will be declared proclaimed offenders and the process of issuing red warrants for them will begin.

The four references against the Sharif family related to their Avenfield properties (London), Azizia Steel Mills, Hill Metal Company and other companies that include Flagship Investments, Hartstone properties, Que Holdings, Quint Eaton Place 2, Quint Saloane, Quaint, Flagship Securities, Quint Gloucester Place, Quint Paddington, Flagship Developments, Alanna Services (BVI), Lankin SA (BVI), Chadron, Ansbacher, Coomber and Capital FZE, Dubai.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2017