LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday sought a reply from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on a petition by PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz for one-time permission to go abroad and granted post-arrest bail to her cousin Yousaf Abbas in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills/money laundering case.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh first took up the petition of Ms Nawaz. Her counsel Azam Nazir Tarar told the bench that doctors in London had advised former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, father of the petitioner, to undergo a surgical procedure which was scheduled to begin on Feb 24.

He said the petitioner had already lost her mother and had voluntarily returned to the country to serve a sentence awarded to her by an accountability court.

The lawyer said Mr Sharif had not recovered so far and he was still undergoing diagnosis process as per his fresh medical reports filed with the court.

He argued that the petitioner was in a dire need to go to London to attend to her ailing father. He referred to a Sindh High Court decision wherein an under-trial prisoner was allowed to travel abroad once.

Court grants bail to Yousaf Abbas in money laundering case

He requested the court to order removal of Ms Nawaz’s name from the Exit Control List and grant her a one-time permission for six weeks to travel to London.

NAB Special Prosecutor Faisal Raza Bokhari opposed the petition and argued that Ms Nawaz was still a convict as her sentence had only been suspended by the Islamabad High Court and not set aside.

The bench directed the prosecutor to file a reply to the petition in the light of fresh medical reports of Mr Nawaz submitted by the petitioner. The hearing was adjourned till Feb 25.

The same LHC bench granted bail to Yousaf Abbas in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, subject to furnishing of two surety bonds of Rs10 million each.

Advocate Amjad Pervez, on behalf of Mr Abbas, argued that NAB had accused his client of committing money laundering of Rs410 million. He said that Mr Abbas had presented complete record to investigators about the money in question which had been transferred to the country through banking channels and tax had been duly paid on it. He said that all the transactions had also been declared to the Federal Board of Revenue.

The counsel said Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were also suspects in the case and the prosecution case against Mr Abbas was weaker than theirs and both of them had already been granted bail.

He argued that Mr Abbas had spent 48 days in NAB custody on physical remand and the prosecution had failed to produce any solid evidence against him.

Opposing the bail, Prosecutor Bokhari said that Mr Abbas had remained the director of the Chaudhry Sugar Mills from 2006 to 2018 and an amount of Rs438 million was transferred to his account from abroad. He said that the petitioner could not justify the transfer of the amount during investigation.

He also alleged that more than Rs1 billion was transferred to the mills from the account of Mr Abbas.

After hearing both sides, the court accepted the petition and directed the petitioner to submit the surety bonds.

NAB had arrested Ms Nawaz and Mr Abbas on Aug 8 last year from Kot Lakhpat jail where they had gone to meet the jailed Nawaz Sharif. Ms Nawaz had already been released on bail by the court with the condition of surrendering her passport.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2020