An accountability court in Lahore on Friday granted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) physical remand of PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz and her cousin Yousuf Abbas until August 21.
The court had earlier reserved its verdict on NAB's request for the duo's 15-day physical remand. Following the hearing, Maryam was driven away from the court by NAB officials.
A day earlier, the PML-N vice president and her cousin were arrested by the anti-corruption watchdog in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) case.
Accountability court judge Naeem Arshad heard NAB's request for 15-day physical remand of the two. Special prosecutor Hafiz Asadullah and Haris Qureshi presented arguments on behalf of the accountability watchdog. Advocate Amjad Pervez was in the court on behalf of Maryam and her cousin.
During the proceedings, Asadullah said that suspicious transactions had been carried out in Maryam's bank accounts. He added that NAB had summoned her twice.
Asadullah said that Maryam was a shareholder of CSM while Abbas had been a shareholder as well as director.
The NAB lawyer said that Maryam did not provide satisfactory answers to their questions, adding that shares that she had purchased in 2008 were transferred to her father, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in 2015.
The court asked when the inquiry against Maryam had been initiated to which the NAB prosecutor responded that prior to her arrest, Maryam had been summoned but she had failed to appear before the bureau.
The investigative officer said that initially Maryam had shares of over Rs800,000 and in 2008 there were shares worth Rs0.41 billion in her name. He said that she was asked who the foreign investor was but had refused to respond.
The accountability bureau presented a list of questions to which Maryam had not responded.
Maryam also met her cousin, Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz, inside the court premises.
According to the NAB lawyer, Abbas's account was used for money laundering. He added that after money came into his account, it was transferred to the CSM.
The accountability court judge asked what had happened in the Panama Papers case to which the NAB lawyer responded that in the case, three references were to be submitted including one regarding CSM.
The judge asked why Maryam's shares had not come up during the earlier case to which the NAB investigative officer said that it had been mentioned in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report.
Meanwhile, PML-N workers burnt tires outside the judicial complex while chanting slogans against the government.
Strict security arrangements
Ahead of the PML-N leader's appearance in the court, strict security arrangements were made with a large contingent of police stationed inside and outside the court premises.
Earlier police had said that no party workers or leaders would be allowed to come to the court premises. However, various party leaders including Mohammad Zubair and Azma Bukhari arrived at the court.
Maryam's son Junaid Safdar and husband retired Capt Mohammad Safdar Awan also arrived at the court. While speaking to media, Awan said Maryam was going to hold a rally against India and her voice was once again being silenced.
Lawyers clashed with police outside the courtroom. As the proceedings began, the court stopped workers and lawyers from taking selfies with Maryam inside the premises and asked them not to spoil the decorum of the courtroom.
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb strongly condemned the violence against party workers. A resolution was also submitted in the Punjab Assembly against the violence towards assembly members and party workers.
Chaudhry Sugar Mills case
Maryam had appeared before NAB on July 31 to record her statement in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills reference. The statement was regarding ‘dubious’ business transactions of the Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) of which she was one of the major shareholders.
NAB sources had revealed to Dawn at the time that in January 2018, the PML-N government’s financial monitoring unit had reported to NAB a huge suspicious transaction involving billions of rupees in Chaudhry Sugar Mills under the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
The sources further confirmed that a NAB inquiry started in October 2018 detected that Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Shahbaz Sharif and the family of the late Abbas Sharif are shareholders in the company, along with some foreigners hailing from the UAE and UK.
“Huge investments were made in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills from 2001 to 2017 of billions of rupees in the name of the foreigners by issuing shares in the millions to them. Later on, the same shares of the company were transferred back to Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and Nawaz Sharif at various times without paying any consideration, which led to the conclusion that names of foreigners were used as proxies to make huge investments in the company for the reason that Sharif family did not have white money for investment,” a source close to the case had told Dawn.
NAB had re-summoned Maryam on Aug 8 (today), and asked her to provide details of her shareholdings in CSM, details of financial relations with the foreign nationals in question — Saeed Said bin Jabar al Suweidi, a UAE national; Sheikh Zakauddin, a UK national; Hani Ahmad Jamjoon, a Saudi national; and Naseer Abdullah Lootah, a UAE national.
She was also asked to provide details of remittances/telegraphic transfers sent and received by her from abroad.
Accountability judge Mohammad Bashir had on July 6 last year convicted former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam in the Avenfield properties reference and sentenced them to 10 years and seven years imprisonment, respectively.
The Islamabad High Court, however, had suspended the sentence and released Maryam.
Additional reporting by Javed Hussain