LAHORE: An accountability court on Wednesday extended for third time physical remand of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz and her cousin Yousaf Abbas in Chaudhry Sugar Mills Limited (CSML) case for another 14 days.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) presented both suspects before the court under strict security arrangements taken outside the judicial complex.
NAB special prosecutor Hafiz Asadullah Awan submitted to the court an application seeking further remand of both suspects.
While judge Ameer Muhammad Khan asked Maryam to stand in the dock, the prosecutor resumed his arguments and said the suspect had not been cooperating in the investigation.
PML-N workers clash with police; lawyers group chants slogans in courtroom
He reiterated that Maryam was appointed as a director of M/s Chaudhry Sugar Mills in 1992 and she held the post till 1997. She served as chief executive officer of the mills during 1995-96 while she was holding 864,000 ordinary shares.
He said the suspect became the largest shareholder of the mills during 2008 to 2010 having over 12 million shares (47 per cent ownership). Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif became the largest shareholder of the mills during 2015-16 with over 12m shares (46pc ownership), he added.
The prosecutor said documents revealed that Maryam acquired the shares of the mills from three foreign nationals namely Saeed Saif Bin Jabar Al-Sweidi, Hani Ahmad Jamjoom and Sheikh Zakauddin.
However, the prosecutor said during the latest remand the suspect was asked about the transfer deed through which three foreigners transferred 11.5m ordinary shares of the mills.
He said the company secretary of the mills namely Ajmal Sibtain and chief financial officer Shahbaz Haider were interrogated and they failed to furnish documents to justify the transfer of the shares.
The prosecutor said the suspect, during the instant remand, was confronted with the financial audit statement of the mills and was asked about the lenders of the company. He pointed out that the project of the sugar mills was Rs700m and for which Rs400m had been shown to be obtained from an offshore company namely M/s Chedron Jersy while remaining funds had been arranged locally.
He said tax record of both the suspects – Maryam and Abbas - was being procured from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to ascertain their financial worth.
A report filed by the prosecutor also stated that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children Maryam, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz obtained 4.32m shares in the sugar mills for which they paid Rs40.32m.
However, the available tax record indicate that they did not have sufficient sources to contribute towards paid-up capital in the company. He said Nawaz Sharif was prime minster when the sugar mills was established in 1992.
The prosecutor asked the court to extend the physical remand of the suspects for 15 days to procure further evidence, detection of hidden assets and recovery of crime proceeds.
Advocate Amjad Pervez, the defence counsel, opposed the remand and argued that the matter of CSML had been investigated by the joint investigation team formed under the Panama Papers judgment of the Supreme Court. He said the NAB had been asking for the remand on same points from the day first.
He argued that all the shares of the mills were transferred by grandfather of Maryam and Abbas had managed the money transaction with UAE national Naseer Abdullah Lootah.
The counsel stated that all documents of the case were already in possession of the bureau and there was no need to keep the suspects in custody.
The judge extended the physical remand of both suspects till Sept 18.
Earlier, scores of lawyers affiliated to PML-N kept chanting slogans in and outside the courtroom. During the proceedings, the judge time and again cautioned the lawyers to stay quiet.
However, the lawyers and the party workers even ignored requests of senior defence counsel Azam Nazir Tarar to maintain silence.
Senior politician Javed Hashmi, Senator Pervez Rashid and Nehal Hashmi also attended the proceedings in the crowded court.
Former railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq and his brother Khwaja Salman Rafiq also met Maryam. They were produced in Paragon case in another court.
Outside the judicial complex, PML-N workers had minor skirmishes with the police. A former deputy mayor namely Mian Tariq fell on the road during a scuffle with the cops.
Roads leading to the complex were also closed by placing containers and barbed wires causing problems for pedestrians and traffic.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2019