LAHORE: An accountability court on Tuesday granted physical remand of Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for another week in a money laundering and illegal assets reference.
At the outset of the remand proceedings, NAB Special Prosecutor Usman Rashid told the court that Shahbaz had not cooperated with the investigators and failed to come up with satisfactory answers to their questions. He said the suspect could not explain his monetary sources for the purchase of flats in the UK, adding that the suspect claimed the flats were purchased with the money borrowed from different individuals, including Aneel Mussarat and Ajmal Aasi.
The prosecutor said the suspect also concealed information about the sale of 136 kanals to Bahria Town in his nomination papers.
Advocate Amjad Pervez, the counsel for Shahbaz, stated that his client had already responded in detail to the questions the NAB was referring to. He said 85 per cent of the finances for the purchase of the flats were made through bank loans. He said registry documents of the land transaction with Bahria Town had also been furnished to the bureau. The counsel said the NAB was just playing to the gallery as it already possessed all the documents and details.
The prosecutor sought further remand of Shahbaz for 14 days to complete the investigation. He claimed that the opposition leader had received telegraphic transfers (TTs) in his personal accounts.
At this, Shahbaz said he would not contest the trial if the bureau proved any TT transaction in his name.
The prosecutor explained that the TTs were received in the suspect’s company account. Some records had also been sought from a bank in London. He said the custody of the suspect was also required for confrontation with documents relating to multiple transactions with his son, Suleman.
Shahbaz denied the allegations as “a pack of lies”. He said the transactions with his son were through a banking channel.
Advocate Pervez reiterated that the court would find the bureau’s questions baseless once it read the reference.
Presiding Judge Jawadul Hassan granted the NAB physical remand of Shahbaz for a week instead of 14 days and directed the investigating officer to complete the investigation by the next hearing on Oct 20.
The judge also issued a notice to the NAB on an application on behalf of Nusrat Shahbaz, the wife of Shahbaz, for permanent exemption from personal appearance over health reasons.
Earlier, Shahbaz told the judge that the issue of provision of food was resolved in light of the court’s direction. However, he complained about the unavailability of a comfortable chair since he had chronic backache. The prosecutor stated that all available facilities were being provided to Shahbaz in light of his health condition.
Hamza Shahbaz was also brought to the court from jail to attend the hearing in the money laundering reference.
The judge sought the personal appearance of a responsible official from the Foreign Office on Oct 27 to explain the progress on service of arrest warrants against absconding suspects Suleman and Haroon Yousaf.
The NAB told the court that Shahbaz’s wife and two daughters — Rabia and Javeria — had not joined the investigation so far.
Police kept all surrounding roads of the judicial complex blocked with containers and barbed wire on the occasion of Shahbaz’s appearance.
Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2020