LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has declared the reply of PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif in money laundering and income beyond means investigations “unsatisfactory” and summoned him for the third time on May 4.
The NAB also refused to entertain the request of the opposition leader in the National Assembly to quiz him through video link.
Shahbaz skipped the NAB hearing for the second consecutive time on Wednesday despite the anti-graft watchdog’s warning that he might face “serious consequences” for not cooperating with it.
In his reply to the bureau’s questionnaire, Shahbaz said he could not appear before its combined investigation team (CIT) because of precautions from coronavirus. He said since he was a cancer survivor with low immunity and was following his doctors’ advice to restrict movement owing to the pandemic, he was ready to respond to any more questions (of NAB) through video link.
Meanwhile, the PML-N said Shahbaz Sharif had submitted a “24-page” reply along with the required documents to the NAB after securing the record from here and the UK, but the bureau seemed more interested in making him appear before it.
Summons him for third time
“We wonder how the NAB without going through Shahbaz’s reply issued him another call up notice for May 4. It shows clear collusion of NAB and Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi,” PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said.
“NAB cannot express its dissatisfaction on his reply without reading it. NAB’s premeditated response to Shahbaz’s answers is a proof of NAB-Niazi fixed match and travesty of justice,” she declared.
Rejecting the NAB’s accusation that Shahbaz was not cooperating with it, the former information minister said: “Mr Sharif remained in custody for 133 days and submitted every relevant document and detail so how does the question of non-cooperation arise? Those who are non-cooperative do not remain in NAB prison without any charges for 61 days,” she said, adding the NAB’s focus seemed to be on making the PML-N president appear before it instead of his interrogation and answers to the bureau’s questions.
On the other hand, the NAB has again warned Shahbaz to cooperate with it and appear before the CIT as law was equal for everyone.“Shahbaz Sharif is asked to appear before the NAB and provide all required information to it in person,” it stated.
During its investigation into money laundering allegedly committed by the Shahbaz family, the bureau had found that he and his sons -- Hamza and Suleman -- accumulated assets worth Rs3bn which were disproportionate to their known sources of income.
“The suspects in order to justify the acquisition of assets have mentioned foreign remittances worth Rs1.3bn,” the bureau said, alleging that most of the remittances were fictitious and the process of remittances was used for “laundering the assets” disproportionate to their known sources of income.
Mr Suleman, who is wanted by the NAB in this case, is in the UK, while Hamza is in jail on judicial remand.
Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2020