ISLAMABAD, Nov 12 The Musharraf government prepared a money laundering reference against PML-N leaders Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif in 2000 on the basis of a statement recorded by one of their trusted lieutenants, Senator Ishaq Dar, according to a court document seen by Dawn here on Thursday.

Senator Dar's handwritten statement, given before a magistrate back on April 25, 2000, had alleged that Sharif brothers used the Hudaibya Paper Mills as cover for money laundering during the late 1990s.

The reference was prepared on the orders of then president Pervez Musharraf, but it was shelved after the Sharif brothers went into exile in December of the same year.

The Musharraf government tried to reopen the reference in 2007 after Nawaz Sharif announced his return to the country.

The confessional statement of Senator Ishaq Dar was recorded before a district magistrate in Lahore. He was brought to the court from a jail by Basharat Shahzad, who was then serving as assistant director in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

According to legal experts, the senator's deposition was an 'irrevocable statement' as had been recorded under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

Senator Ishaq Dar has always been regarded as one of the closest aides of the Sharif family, and is now also a relative as his son is married to Nawaz Sharif's younger daughter.

However, the NAB record clearly shows that back in 2000 he had agreed to give a written statement against the Sharifs about their alleged involvement in money laundering.

The top PML-N leaders had hit a rough patch by then as some of their lieutenants were busy developing a new political system for Gen Pervez Musharraf after his Oct 1999 military coup.

In the statement, Ishaq Dar accused Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif of money laundering in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case. At one point in the 43-page statement, Mr Dar said that on the instructions of Mian Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, “I opened two foreign currency accounts in the name of Sikandara Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi with the foreign currency funds provided by the Sharif family in the Bank of America by signing as Sikandara Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi”.

He said that all instructions to the bank in the name of these two persons were signed by him under the orders of “original depositors”, namely Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif.

“The foreign currency accounts of Nuzhat Gohar and Kashif Masood Qazi were opened in Bank of America by Naeem Mehmood under my instructions (based on instructions of Sharifs) by signing the same as Nuzhat Gohar and Kashif Masood Qazi.”

The document shows Dar stated that besides these foreign currency accounts, a previously opened foreign currency account of Saeed Ahmed, a former director of First Hajvari Modaraba Co and close friend of Dar, and of Mussa Ghani, the nephew of Dar's wife, were also used to deposit huge foreign currency funds provided by “the Sharif family” to offer them as collateral to obtain different direct and indirect credit lines.

Senator Dar had disclosed that the Bank of America, Citibank, Atlas Investment Bank, Al Barka Bank and Al Towfeeq Investment Bank were used under the instructions of the Sharif family.

Interestingly enough, Ishaq Dar also implicated himself by confessing in court that he — along with his friends Kamal Qureshi and Naeem Mehmood — had opened fake foreign currency accounts in different international banks.

Mr Dar said an amount of $3.725 million in Emirates Bank, $ 8.539 million in Al Faysal Bank and $2.622 million were later transferred in the accounts of the accounts Hudaibya Paper Mills.

He said that the entire amount in these banks finally landed in the accounts of the paper mills.

The Hudaibiya Paper Mills case is still pending in the National Accountability Bureau.

If it is opened again, the Sharif brothers may be in for a rude shock a confidant is to blame for the albatross around their necks.

In this regard Dawn made repeated efforts to contact Senator Dar on telephone, but without luck as his mobile number was switched off and he did not reply to text messages.

However, a PML-N spokesman Siddiq ul Farooq alleged that the signed statement was extracted from Mr Ishaq Dar under duress.

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