–Three-member anti-graft team kept waiting for hours to probe alleged misuse of authority
–NAB likely to file reference against Nawaz over non-cooperation
LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday failed to appear before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) despite being summoned for the second time in a case pertaining to the alleged misuse of authority by construction of a road leading to the Sharif family’s residence in Jati Umra, Raiwind.
This is the second time Nawaz Sharif that decided not to appear before NAB in the same case. In the earlier summons, Nawaz had not appeared before NAB because he was in London to attend his ailing wife Kulsoom Nawaz.
A three-member joint investigation team waited for Nawaz to show up for hours. According to media reports, the anti-graft body is likely to file a reference against the ex-premier over non-cooperation. The reference may be filed against Nawaz within this month, they added.
‘MISUSE OF AUTHORITY’:
NAB’s combined investigation team summoned Nawaz over allegations that the ousted PM and his brother, Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shehbaz Sharif, “misused” their powers to widen a patch of the road that lies between Raiwind and Sharif’s residence in Jati Umra.
The anti-corruption watchdog is investigating the widening of the road from 20 feet to 24 feet which allegedly involved the misappropriation of Rs125 million.
In its earlier notice to the Sharifs, the anti-graft bureau said: “Investigation has revealed that you [Nawaz Sharif] being then prime minister illegally convened a meeting on March 15, 1998, regarding construction of the road from Adda Plot to Sundar Mull by utilising funds of Zila Council Lahore for your personal benefit.”
“It has also been revealed that you exercised the authority which was not vested with you by passing illegal directions on the project funded by the Zila Council Lahore,” the notice had read.
“Being [then] then prime minister you misused your authority by way of initiating the project for your personal benefit in connivance with your brother Shahbaz Sharif who was then the chief minister of Punjab. Because of your (Nawaz Sharif) illegal direction the Zila Council Lahore had to drop various other projects of public welfare at the cost of the said project in connivance with Shahbaz Sharif,” it had added.
It is alleged that the funds allocated for development projects by Lahore’s district council were used for the construction of the road. The investigations against the Sharif brothers in the case were first initiated by NAB on April 17, 2000. NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal had recently ordered a reinvestigation of the case after which the bureau will submit a reference in an accountability court.
NAB has already issued a notice to Shehbaz Sharif with a direction to submit a complete record of the “illegal construction” of the road.
NAWAZ’S TUSSLE WITH NAB CHIEF:
Nawaz’s tussle with the NAB chief had aggravated when the anti-graft body had ordered an inquiry against the former prime minister and others for allegedly laundering $4.9 billion to India. The NAB chairman had taken notice of a media report that claimed that the incident was mentioned in the World Bank’s (WB) Migration and Remittance Book 2016 despite a clarification in which the WB said, “The report does not include any mention of money laundering nor does it name any individuals.”
Nawaz then demanded Justice (retd) Iqbal to present within 24 hours proof of money laundering against him or resign from office. “The NAB chairman should present all evidence against me within 24 hours,” Nawaz said while addressing an emergency press conference at the Punjab House.
“If you fail to present evidence, then you should publicly apologise to the nation and resign,” he demanded further. Nawaz criticised NAB for holding an inquiry against him and others for allegedly laundering $4.9 billion to India.
Consequently, National Assembly’s standing committee for Law and Justice had summoned the NAB chairman for an in-camera briefing regardign the money laundering allegations against Nawaz.