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Last prosecution witness in NAB reference summoned

Updated November 03, 2018

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Prosecution witness Wajid Zia. — Photo/File
Prosecution witness Wajid Zia. — Photo/File

ISLAMABAD: Accountability judge Moh­a­m­mad Arshad Malik has summoned the last prosecution witness for recording his testimony in the Flagship reference on Nov 5 (Monday).

Lead defence counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed assured the court that he would complete cross-examination of star prosecution witness and National Accountability Bureau investigation officer Wajid Zia by Monday.

During the cross-examination, Mr Zia — who headed the six-member joint investigation team (JIT) — said that the investigators “did not come across any documentary or oral evidence showing that accused Hassan Nawaz Sharif had been accused of money laundering or any proceeding in this regard had been initiated against him by any UK authority for any of his business activities related to any of [his] companies.”

According to a witness, Safdar told JIT that during his stay in Saudi Arabia he used to receive 1,500 riyals per month as pocket money from Nawaz

The witness further said that during the investigation the JIT did not come across any documentary or oral evidence showing that accused Hassan Nawaz had been accused of any wrongdoing of any nature whatsoever concerning any of the aforesaid companies, or any investment made by him or financial transactions carried out by him as detailed in the JIT report.

He also conceded that there was “no evidence showing that any UK authority had taken any action or initiated any proceedings against accused Hassan Nawaz Sharif in respect of his own tax returns.”

The star prosecution witness confirmed to the court that Hassan Nawaz had established his business in the UK in 2001 when he was 25 years old.

“It is correct that accused Hassan Nawaz…had set up Flagship Investment Company and twelve other companies in the subsequent years which were set up with minimal paid up capital of GBP1 to GBP100, and that the purpose of these companies was to acquire properties, develop them and then sell it on profit,” stated the witness.

The witness told the court that retired Captain Mohammad Safdar — son-in-law of the ex-premier — “appeared before the JIT and stated that during his stay in Saudi Arabia he used to receive 1,500 riyals per month as pocket money from Nawaz Sharif and the pocket money was, likewise, fixed for all family members”.

Mr Zia told the court that it had come to the notice of the JIT during the investigation that Capital FZE was set up in the year 2001. It was correct, he said, that as per documents the name of accused Nawaz Sharif was found to be associated with Capital FZE for the first time on June 18, 2006 when an application for an employment visa was filed by Manager Business of Capital FZE.

When defence counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed asked him about the identity of the staff associated by the JIT to prepare the cash flow charts related to the business of Hassan Nawaz, Mr Zia replied: “I had not personally fed the data in the computer…the data entry operator associated with the JIT fed the data in the computer. For security reasons I cannot disclose the name of said official.” However, he admitted that there was no court order prohibiting the disclosure of the name of the said official.

While the cross-examination was under way, a defence counsel requested the court to adjourn the proceedings since they had to offer Friday prayers.

The accountability judge wanted Khawaja Haris to conclude the cross-examination by Friday; however, he adjourned the proceeding till Monday as the defence counsel informed that his cross-examination had almost been done and the remaining could be completed by the next working day.

Subsequently, the court adjourned the proceedings till Nov 5.

Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2018

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