NAB seeks ban on foreign travel of Sharif, family

Updated February 15, 2018


ISLAMABAD: The Natio­nal Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday sought a ban on travel abroad of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar — a day before an accountability court takes up their applications seeking exemption from personal appearance as they want to visit ailing former first lady Kulsoom Nawaz in the United Kingdom.

An official handout released by NAB said the bureau had asked the interior ministry to place Mr Sharif and his family members on the Exit Control List since they were facing references in the accountability court.

Mr Sharif, Maryam and Capt Safdar filed the applications in the accountability court on Tuesday, seeking exemption from personal appearance till March 3.

Their counsel Amjad Pervez had informed the court that Mr Sharif’s spouse was in critical stage and she needed the presence of her husband and family members there. He assured the court of Mr Sharif’s return and remi­nded it that he had earlier returned after inquiring after the health of his wife.

On Wednesday, NAB also filed two supplementary references in Flagship Investment and Al-Azizia cases against the former prime minister — at a time when it has completed the recording of testimony of almost all witnesses.

Accountability court to take up today their pleas seeking exemption from appearance till March 3

The accountability court has so far recorded the statements of over 20 witnesses and only a couple of prosecution witnesses are left in each of three pending references and the trial is almost at the final stages.

The bureau has named 14 witnesses in the Flagship reference and seven in the Al-Azizia reference. The supplementary references reportedly contain the script of an interview given by Mr Sharif’s son Hussain to a private TV channel. When NAB had contacted the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Autho­rity (Pemra) to retrieve its record, the latter said it did not keep records for more than 90 days. NAB, however, decided to make Pemra record part of a supplementary reference.

Mr Sharif and his family members are facing three corruption references in the accountability court — Avenfield properties, Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment — in which they are accused of money laundering, tax evasion and hiding offshore assets.

NAB had last month filed a supplementary reference in the Avenfield properties case in which it cited seven witnesses, including two foreigners.

The Supreme Court had in its July 28, 2017 judgement in the Panama Papers case empowered NAB to file “supplementary refere­nce(s) if and when any other asset, which is not prima facie reasonably accounted for, is discovered”.

After appearing before the accountability court on Tuesday, Mr Sharif had criticised NAB for filing supplementary references.

“It gives an impression that there is nothing in the already pending references and, therefore, they are filing consecutive supplementary references. Had there been any tangible evidence, the bureau would not have filed the supplementary reference,” he claimed.

According to him, supplementary references are nothing but rephrasing of the interim references and these are being filed just for the sake of face-saving. He claimed that those who prepared the references and handed over these to NAB wanted his conviction otherwise all their efforts would go in vain.

Supplementary reference against Dar NAB Special Prosecutor Imran Shafique informed the accountability court on Wednesday that the bureau was filing a supplementary reference against defunct finance minister Ishaq Dar for having assets beyond known sources of his income.

He also submitted an application seeking the court’s permission to file the reference. In the application, the prosecutor said the filing of the supplementary reference had been duly recommended by the regional bureau and it was under the process of approval by the NAB chairman.

The court, which has already declared Mr Dar proclaimed offender, is recording evidence in his absence. Twenty-eight prosecution witnesses out of total 30 have already recorded their statements in the interim reference against Dar.

Mr Shafique informed the court that the prosecution aimed “to bring on record the entire incriminating material through supplementary reference”, adding that if prosecution was not allowed the opportunity to file the supplementary reference, “the evidence and material collected so far is likely to be hampered and the prosecution would be bound to suffer”.

Meanwhile, the court dismissed Mr Dar’s objections to freezing of his assets.

The defunct finance minister had through his counsel Qausain Faisal Mufti objected to the court’s order of freezing his assets at the request of NAB. In his arguments, the counsel said his client had not been given proper opportunity of defence.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2018