LAHORE: An accountability court on Wednesday extended judicial remand of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her cousin Yousaf Abbas in Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.
As duty judge Jawadul Hassan resumed hearing, a prosecutor of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) appeared and sought time to file reference against the suspects. He said investigation into charges of money laundering was under way. He said reference would be filed after completion of the investigation.
At this the judge extended judicial remand of the suspects and directed the jail officials to produce them again on Oct 23.
Earlier, the judge admonished lawyers and workers of PML-N for taking selfies with Ms Nawaz in the courtroom and causing disturbance during the proceedings.
After the hearing was adjourned, the judge allowed Ms Nawaz and Abbas to have a meeting with their lawyers in a room adjacent to the court. Several party leaders including Nehal Hashmi, Danyal Aziz, Azma Bukhari, Hina Pervez Butt and Ms Nawaz’s husband Muhammad Safdar attended the hearing.
On last hearing, the court had denied further custody of the suspects to the NAB and sent them to jail on judicial remand.
The court had observed that the prosecution had already availed sufficient time for collection of evidence and documents. Therefore, it said, the request for further remand by the NAB was just as usual.
The bureau mainly accused M Nawaz of committing money laundering under the garb of sale/purchase of the sugar mills’ shares. It said she became largest shareholder of the mills in 2008 having over 12 million shares and her assets had been found disproportionate to her income during that period.
It further said that the mills was shifted from Gojra to Rahim Yar Khan in 2015 at a cost of Rs1.5 billion and this amount had not so far been justified by the suspects.
On the other hand, the defence side based its arguments mainly on the point of the jurisdiction of the NAB to investigate matters of companies. It said sale and purchase of shares was in accordance with laws of Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and the Companies Act 2017. It argued that power to investigate into any irregularity of a sugar mills vested with the SECP. Moreover, it said all financial affairs of the mills had already been thoroughly investigated by a JIT formed by the Supreme Court in Panama Papers case. Any further inquiry into the same matter would amount to double jeopardy, it argued.
On her way back to jail, Ms Nawaz in a brief conversation with the media slammed the ministers for running a malicious campaign and alleging that she possessed a cellular phone in the detention. She said even the jail authorities denied the allegation as being baseless.
Ms Nawaz said the PTI government would go the same way it was established. “A rigging-riddled government does not have its footing like falsehood,” she added.
Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2019