LAHORE: An accountability court on Wednesday extended the judicial remand of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her cousin and Sharif Group’s Managing Director Yousaf Abbas for 14 days in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) case.
During the hearing presided by Accountability Judge Jawadul Hassan, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) requested the court to extend judicial remand of the two suspects, which the court accepted.
On Aug 8, an anti-graft team had arrested Maryam outside the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore for skipping appearance in Chaudhry Sugar Mills case over a meeting with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
NAB claims that Maryam was unable to account for the foreign investment in sugar mills where she was a “partner or majority stakeholder”.
She also failed to satisfy the bureau regarding the money used to purchase the shares, said NAB. The bureau also said that three foreigner investors had transferred 11,000 shares worth millions of rupees on Maryam’s name.
Following her detention, the daycare centre at NAB’s Lahore headquarters was declared sub-jail while women police and anti-corruption personnel were deployed on the premises.
On Sept 25, Maryam was sent on judicial remand after the court rejected further physical remand.
As at outset of the court proceedings, NAB prosecutors Hafiz Asadullah Awan and Haris Qureshi had presented their arguments seeking an extension in the physical remand, saying that the case required further investigation.
The accountability watchdog had arrested Maryam and her cousin on Aug 8 in the said case. Since then, their physical remand has been repeatedly extended.
During the proceedings, the NAB prosecutor had said that during the investigation of two they had found out about an agreement for the division of the family’s assets.
A total of 14.5 million shares of the mills were divided among former PM Nawaz Sharif, former Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif, their brother Abbas Sharif, sister Kausar Bibi and mother Shamim Begum, it had said.
The shares of the mills were 26.2 million in 2008, as per the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan’s (SECP) record, they said, adding that there was a difference of 11.6 million shares and these were not included in the assets of the Sharif family, they had added.
They had argued that Maryam Nawaz’s assets did not correspond to her income in 2008 and Sharif family members had to be summoned for investigations in the matter.
They said that Maryam Nawaz had received the amount sent by Sadiqa Saeed Mahmood through telegraphic transfers (TTs) in 1998 and the same amount was transferred to the mills later.
The same year, the accused received Rs160m but the relation of the accused with the sender was not clear, they said, adding that Sadiqa also paid a loan of the mills, they had added.
The prosecutors had further submitted that the mills was shifted from Gojra to Rahim Yar Khan at a cost of Rs1.5 billion in 2015, whereas the source of the amount has to be determined yet.
They had submitted that three foreigners sent shares in the name of Maryam Nawaz in 2008 and the same shares were transferred by Yousaf Abbas to Mian Nawaz Sharif.
They had submitted that $4.8 million sent to Yousaf Abbas through TTs which was transferred to the mills and the act was aimed to extend the benefit to directors and shareholders of the mills.
However, defence counsel Amjad Pervaiz had opposed the remand plea, saying that the bureau had already taken remand of the accused on the same grounds: agreement for the division of the family’s assets.
He had submitted that investigations had already been conducted into the matter whereas sale and purchase of shares of mills were done under the SECP rules and Companies Act.
He had submitted that the bureau did not have any authority to investigate the matter whereas the SECP was empowered for action in this regard.
He had submitted that the sugar mill was established in 1991 and the shares were transferred in 2008, whereas the Anti-Money Laundering Act was implemented in 2010, and the same could not be implemented on past transactions.
He had said that the Lahore High Court had already passed judgement over Sadiqa Saeed TTS in Hudaibiya Papers Mills case and that the bureau was trying to mislead the court.
He had submitted that agreement of a division of properties of the Sharif family was in possession of the bureau from day first, adding that Mian Sharif died in 2004 and shares were divided in 2008.
He submitted that the bureau had levelled allegations of money laundering against the accused but it failed to give any evidence in this regard.
On July 6 last year, judge Bashir had convicted former premier Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz in Avenfield reference and sentenced them 10 years and 7 years imprisonment respectively.
In the verdict, Judge Bashir had declared that “the trust deeds produced by the accused Maryam Nawaz were also found bogus. In view of the role of this accused Maryam Nawaz, she is convicted and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for seven years with [a] fine of two million pounds.”