LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has approached the accountability courts of Lahore for reopening of as many as 115 references, including those against former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza, former federal minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq and his brother Salman and Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan.
The courts had returned these references to the NAB chairman in the light of now defunct amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 for sending them to the courts of relevant jurisdiction.
The scrapped amendments had clipped the jurisdiction of the bureau to take cognisance of any alleged financial corruption involving money less than Rs500 million. Whereas the NAB in the Ramzan Sugar Mills reference against Shehbaz and his son made a case of alleged corruption of Rs213 million.
In the mills reference, the NAB had arrested Shehbaz on Oct 5, 2018, and the Lahore High Court had released him on bail on Feb 14, 2019.
The LHC in its bail granting order observed that prima facie, allegations about gratification, corrupt practice, abuse of authority, kickbacks and commission required further probe during trial as at this stage cogent evidence was not available.
The NAB alleged that Shehbaz being chief minister and his son Hamza with the abetment and connivance of each other caused a loss to national exchequer of Rs213 million by committing the offence of misuse of authority.
It said Shehbaz had issued a directive for the construction of a drain in Chiniot district primarily for the use of Ramzan Sugar Mills owned by his sons -- Hamza and Suleman.
The NAB is also likely to approach the accountability court for the reopening of Paragon reference against former federal minister for railways Khwaja Saad Rafiq, his brother Khwaja Salman Rafiq and others.The court on March 29, 2023, returned the Paragon reference to the NAB chairman against Saad, Salman and others.
Another accountability court on Oct 6, 2022, returned to the NAB a reference of corruption in Chiniot minerals contracts against PA Speaker Sibtain Khan and others.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2023