Sharif cousins to appear before NAB on Wednesday


–Maryam Nawaz, Hamza Shehbaz and Yousaf Abbas will appear before court in two separate money laundering cases


LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her cousins Yousaf Abbas and Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz will be produced before an accountability court in two separate money laundering cases on Wednesday.

Maryam is facing charges of laundering money allegedly through Chaudhry Sugar Mills. She has over 12 million shares of Chaudhary Sugar Mills (47 per cent ownership) while her father Nawaz Sharif, with over 12 million shares, is the largest shareholder (46 per cent ownership) of the company. According to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Maryam was also the director of Chaudhary Sugar Mills from 1992 till 1997.

NAB will produce the suspects before the accountability court under strict security arrangements.  Hundreds of police officials will be deployed outside the judicial complex and heavy containers and barbed wires will also be used on the adjoining roads and streets.

On September 4, an accountability court once again approved 14-day physical remand of Maryam and her cousin after both suspects were produced before the court under strict security arrangements.

NAB’s special prosecutor Hafiz Asadullah represented the bureau in the case and pleaded the court for physical remand of the suspects.

During the last hearing, Accountability Court Judge Ameer Muhammad Khan asked Maryam to stand in the dock when the prosecutor resumed his arguments. The prosecutor said that the suspect had not been cooperating in the investigation.

The prosecutor said that in 1992, Maryam was appointed as a director of Chaudhry Sugar Mills and she held the post till 1997.  He said that she served as chief executive officer of the mills during 1995-96 and also held 864,000 ordinary shares.

Presenting documents before the court, the prosecutor named three foreign nationals namely Saeed Saif Bin Jabar Al-Sweidi, Hani Ahmad Jamjoom and Sheikh Zakauddin saying that Maryam acquired the shares of the mills from these people.

He also informed the court that during the first physical remand, the suspect was asked about the transfer deed through which three foreigners transferred 11.5 million ordinary shares of the mills. Chaudhry Sugar Mills Secretary Ajmal Sibtain and Chief Financial Officer Shahbaz Haider were interrogated and they failed to submit documents to justify the transfer of the shares, the prosecutor said.

He contended that the suspects, during the remand, was confronted with the financial audit statement of the mills and was asked about the lenders of the company. He  said that the project of the sugar mills was Rs700 million and for which Rs400 million had been shown to be obtained from an offshore company namely M/s Chedron Jersy while remaining funds had been arranged locally.

He said that tax record of the both suspects was being procured from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to ascertain their financial worth.

He further argued that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children Maryam, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz made 4.32 million shares in the sugar mills for which they paid Rs40.32 million.

However, the available tax record showed that they did not have sufficient sources to contribute towards paid up capital in the company. Nawaz was prime minster when the sugar mills was established in 1992, he told the court.

The prosecutor requested the court to extend the physical remand of the suspects for 15 days to further investigate the matter including detection of hidden assets and recovery of crime proceeds.

Defence Counsel Advocate Amjad Pervez opposed the remand and argued that the matter of sugar mills had been investigated by the joint investigation team formed under the Panama Papers judgment of the Supreme Court (SC). He said that NAB had been asking for the remand on same points from the day first.

He contended that all the shares of the mills were transferred by grandfather of Maryam and Abbas had managed the money transaction with UAE national Naseer Abdullah Lootah.

The counsel said that all the documents of the case were already in the possession of the bureau and there was no need of the suspects’ further physical remand.

After hearing both sides, the court had extended the physical remand of both suspects till September 18.