NAB summons Shahbaz in another case

Updated June 24, 2019

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Opposition leader asked to bring record in assets beyond means case on July 5. — AFP/File
Opposition leader asked to bring record in assets beyond means case on July 5. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has summoned opposition leader in the National Assembly and Pakis­tan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif in the assets beyond means reference.

The former chief minister of Punjab has been asked to carry with him relevant record and documents for joining the investigation at NAB’s Lahore office at 11am on July 5.

His son and opposition leader in Punjab Assembly, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, and others are already under arrest in the case. Hamza Shahbaz attends the assembly session on the production orders issued by Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.

A NAB spokesperson says the family is involved in laundering of around Rs3.3 billion. Shahbaz Sharif had earlier been summoned in the assets beyond means case on April 8, as the case against him and his family was opened when he told the anti-graft watchdog during his incarceration in the Ashiyana Housing Scheme case that his son Salman Shahbaz looked after his financial matters. NAB formed a committee to look into the issue and opened an assets beyond means case after finding ‘evidence’.

Opposition leader was asked to bring record in assets beyond means case on July 5

With the help of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), NAB also arrested Mohammad Mushtaq, a suspected frontman of the Sharif family at the Lahore airport where he had arrived to board an international flight.

Later in a statement, NAB said the accused person acting as the frontman of Hamza and Salman had transferred around Rs500 million into the accounts of the siblings.

A NAB team had tried to raid Hamza Shahbaz’s Model Town residence for two consecutive days in April to arrest him and get hold of what they believed were important documents. But the attempts were frustrated after PML-N workers and guards offered resistance. Subsequently, NAB registered an FIR against Hamza’s guards for torturing and hurling threats at the NAB team.

Besides the Ashiyana scheme, Shahbaz Sharif has also been indicted in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case. An accountability court had indicted both the PML-N president and his son in the NAB reference that alleged that Mr Shahbaz, being the chief minister of Punjab, had issued a directive for the construction of a drain in Chiniot district primarily for exclusive utility of Ramzan Sugar Mills owned by his sons Hamza and Salman. It said Rs200 million was spent from public money on the drain.

In Ashiyana Housing Scheme, the ex-CM is accused of misuse of authority for cancelling the award of the Ashiyana project’s contract to successful bidder Chaudhry Latif and Sons and obliging the Lahore Casa Developers (JV), a proxy group of M/s Paragon City (Pvt) Limited, which was allegedly developed by former railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafique, thus causing millions of rupees losses to the exchequer.

The ex-minister and his brother, Salman Rafique, are also in NAB custody in the Paragon housing scam.

Shahbaz Sharif allegedly directed the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) to assign the project to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), resulting in award of contract to the Lahore Casa Developers (JV). This allegedly caused Rs715m loss to the exchequer and ultimately failed the project.

The ex-CM’s then principal secretary in 2013 Fawad Hassan Fawad, co-accused in the case, had reportedly confessed to NAB that the contract of the successful bidder was cancelled at the behest of Shahbaz Sharif.

Former LDA director general Ahad Khan Cheema, a blue-eyed officer of the previous Shahbaz government in Punjab, is also facing NAB references in the Ashiyana housing and income beyond means cases.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2019