Hudaibiya case: NAB team leaves for London to collect new evidence

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ISLAMABAD: The absence of a Supreme Court judge, Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, on Wednesday resulted in the adjournment of the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibiya Papers Mills case to Friday. 

The three-member SC bench, headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justices Qazi Faez Issa and Mazhar Alam Miankhel, had to resume hearing the NAB appeal against the Sharif family on Wednesday. However, the hearing was adjourned till Friday (December 15) due to the unavailability of Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel.

During the hearing, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s Special Prosecutor Imranul Haq told the apex court bench that he has completed his arguments. However, NAB has yet to submit complete money trail to prove alleged money laundering by the Sharif family in the case.

According to reports, a NAB team comprising two members departed for London to gather more evidence on the case. The two points of contention are the Sharifs’ Mayfair flats in London and their offshore companies.

Sources revealed that the anti-graft team will be staying in London for a week and will probe for relevant information. There are chances of new references being filed against the suspects in case any new information is unearthed during the probe.

Meanwhile, the top court questioned the NAB’s prosecutor over three-year delay in filing of the appeal against the Lahore High Court (LHC)’s verdict on quashing of the case.

A day earlier, the apex court made it clear to the NAB that the burden to prove the alleged criminal offence of the Sharif family in the money laundering case is on its shoulder. During Tuesday’s proceedings, Justice Issa asked the NAB prosecutor about the charges against the suspects in the case.

NAB Prosecutor Imranul Haq informed the bench of the names of fake account holders, to which Justice Issa remarked that having fake accounts do not prove criminality, adding that the same facts were present in 2000.

The bench also inquired as to where the Hudaibiya case is mentioned in the July 28 Panama Papers case judgment, to which the NAB prosecutor replied that the judgement ordered the filing of fresh references if new evidence surfaces. He added that the Panama case Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) report contains material related to the Hudaibiya case.

Justice Issa remarked during the hearing that the apex court cannot rely on statements and needs solid evidence.

NAB’s newly appointed Special Prosecutor Justice (retd) Shah Khawar also observed Tuesday’s proceedings.

On Monday, the three-member bench had dismissed NAB’s request to adjourn proceedings of the case until a new prosecutor general is appointed at the bureau.

The bench also sought detail of the evidence collected by the top graft-buster and later by a JIT in the Panama Papers case. It asked the accountability watchdog to establish money trail to prove the alleged criminal offence.