Nawaz failed to justify assets worth billions, NAB claims


–NAB tells court it has evidence that former PM earned profit worth over Rs1bn via his children’s assets


ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday claimed that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had failed to satisfy investigators regarding his sources of income with which he had acquired assets worth billions of rupees.

Presenting his final arguments in the Al-Azizia corruption reference against Nawaz before Judge Arshad Malik, NAB’s prosecutor Wasiq Malik said that the Al-Azizia reference could be traced back to the Panama Papers case, which was heard by the Supreme Court.

“This was a white-collar crime and hence this case should be viewed in accordance with a special law,” he said.

The prosecutor said that Nawaz Sharif could not account for his assets before the SC, the joint investigation team and NAB and he admitted to owning these assets before the apex court for the first time. The accused were given all the opportunity to defend their case but they could not satisfy the court, Malik added.

“The money trail presented in the case proved to be fake,” the NAB prosecutor continued, adding that the assets had been acknowledged. Nawaz served as a public office holder and his children own billions of rupees worth of assets; the question remains: how were these assets acquired? Malik questioned.

The prosecutor said in his arguments that evidences show that Nawaz has connection with the assets and he earned profits worth over one billion rupees. Ninety-seven per cent of the profit earned from the Hill Metal Steel Mills was sent back to Pakistan; even when the profit was less, more money was being sent here, Malik argued.

‘The State is like a mother and it can ask questions regarding excess of wealth of leaders of the country,” he said.

The court, upon hearing this, inquired whether this amount was still present in the bank account, to which the prosecutor replied that the amount was not frozen and now only a little amount is present in the account.

It is worth noting that the SC on Nov 19 gave the accountability court three more weeks to conclude the Al-Azizia case.

During the hearing on Nov 28, NAB’s deputy prosecutor general had requested the court to issue directives to the defence side to first give final arguments in the case as the accused has submitted some fresh documents in his defence.

The court had given over 120 questions to Nawaz in the Avenfield properties reference and 151 in the Al-Azizia reference. The former prime minister has so far responded to 148 of the 151 questions.

Nawaz Sharif, during hearing of the Al-Azizia case on Nov 22, told the accountability court that the prosecution had failed to prove charges against him.

The ex-PM said he had decided against defending charges framed against him in the case by NAB. “I am not putting forward anything in my defence in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference,” he told the court.