LAHORE: An accountability court on Monday granted exemption from personal appearance to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his nephew Yousuf Abbas in proceedings of the Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) case till filing of a reference by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Mr Abbas was present in the court along with a legal team during the hearing of applications for permanent exemption. Previously, Mr Sharif had been granted exemption from personal appearance on medical grounds as he had been in London for a couple of months with the court’s permission, for his medical treatment.
In this case, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz had also been given exemption from appearance before the trial court till the filing of the reference by NAB.
On Monday, Advocate Amjad Pervez argued in the court that Mr Sharif was still staying abroad as doctors treating him in London had not permitted him air travel. Moreover, he said, NAB had also failed to file a reference against Mr Sharif so far in the case.
Therefore, he asked the court to exempt both suspects — Mr Sharif and Mr Abbas — from personal appearance in proceedings till a reference was filed by NAB.
Accountability Court Judge Ameer Muhammad Khan allowed the applications and observed that suspects would be summoned after the filing of the reference.
NAB has accused three suspects of committing money laundering under the garb of sale/purchase of the sugar mills’ shares.
It said that Mr Sharif held majority shares of the mills during his stints as Punjab finance minister, chief minister and the prime minister of the country. It said the suspect made huge investments in the mills from 1992 to 2016 with funds disproportionate to his known sources of income.
Levelling allegations against Ms Maryam Nawaz, the bureau said that she became the largest shareholder of the mills in 2008, having over 12 million shares and her assets had also been found disproportionate to her income during that period.
It said that the mills had been shifted from Gojra to Rahim Yar Khan in 2015 with a cost of Rs1.5 billion and this amount had not so far been justified by the suspects.
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2020