–Former premier says NAB being used to target his family, PML-N workers
–Nawaz’s counsel says anti-graft watchdog’s ‘disclosures’ in the case are ‘baseless’
LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Friday obtained a 14-day physical remand of the incarcerated former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in connection with the ongoing probe into Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) case.
Earlier in the day, a NAB team, after taking the former premier into custody from Kot Lakhpat Jail, where he is serving a seven-year sentence in the Al Azizia reference, brought him to an accountability court to secure a 15-day physical remand.
As the hearing started, Judge Chaudhry Ameer Muhammad Khan questioned where Nawaz was, after which he appeared on the rostrum.
During proceedings, which were disrupted by party workers attempting to take pictures with the former premier, NAB prosecutor Hafiz Asadullah Awan alleged that in 2016, Nawaz had been the largest shareholder in CSM and had retained his shareholding in CSM as well as in Shamim Sugar Mills.
The NAB prosecutor had further alleged that Maryam, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and other Sharif family members had also been shareholders in CSM.
He had stated that CSM’s bank accounts had received foreign funds, adding that in 1992, one foreign company alone had provided Nawaz with Rs55.5 million. Awan said that they still do not know who the owner of this foreign company is.
After the NAB prosecutor concluded his statements, Nawaz’s counsel, Advocate Amjad Pervez, denied that his client had ever been a shareholder or director in CSM.
“This is not the first time that Nawaz’s assets are under scrutiny,” he said, adding that opposing governments had previously also investigated the formation of the companies, but nothing was found.
He further said Nawaz had no role in the formation of CSM.
According to Pervez, all of Nawaz’s children had instead been directors and shareholders in the sugar mill. “For 30 years, Nawaz has declared his assets,” he said.
Pervez said that a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) had already investigated all the issues, after which NAB had filed a reference in Islamabad.
“There is no justification for another investigation; this is a fake case,” he said.
He also argued that there was no need for the court to give NAB physical remand of the former premier and alleged that his client had been wrongfully arrested.
“NAB’s dishonesty in the case is evident and this is just one more case being formed on political grounds,” said Pervez.
He also described NAB’s “disclosures” in the CSM case as “baseless”.
Nawaz’s counsel noted that said his client was already in prison and if NAB had wanted to conduct an investigation, they could have simply visited him in his cell.
“Nawaz is serving his sentence after a trial and his arrest is not as per the law. He should not be handed over to the agency on physical remand for even an hour,” he argued.
He had further pleaded that Nawaz be discharged in the CSM case.
NAWAZ PLEADS INNOCENCE:
In his statement before the court, the former premier said NAB officials had visited him only once in jail and he had answered all questions he could, adding that he had not shared the information which he did not have knowledge of.
Nawaz said that he had requested to meet his lawyer and alleged that he was not permitted to do so.
“The allegations being made against me are fake. NAB is conducting an investigation on declared assets,” he said.
“From 1937 till 1971, all the money came from the family business. My father was a businessman. Tell me where is the corruption here?” asked Nawaz in court.
“Show corruption during the times when I was in power or the chief minister, I will leave politics. I joined politics later while the assets were made way earlier,” he claimed.
The ousted prime minister claimed that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf had created NAB for him. “It is a black law which is being used only against the leadership and workers of PML-N,” he concluded.
Ahead of the former premier’s appearance, routes leading to the accountability court were closed. A number of PML-N leaders including party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, senator Asif Kirmani, Nawaz’s son-in-law Mohammad Safdar, Pervaiz Rasheed and Ameer Muqam were also present on the occasion.
A day earlier, Awan told a private media outlet that Nawaz would be arrested in the CSM case on Friday and presented in the court of presiding judge Chaudhry Ameer, where the accountability watchdog would seek 15-day physical remand of the former premier.
According to Awan, Nawaz’s arrest would be carried out after permission is obtained from the court. He added that the NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal had issued Nawaz’s arrest warrants.
The case involves members of the Sharif family who are accused of being involved in money laundering under the garb of sale/purchase of the sugar mill’s shares.
NAB has accused Nawaz and his daughter, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, of being a direct beneficiary of the mills. Maryam was arrested in the case in August along with her cousin Yousuf Abbas Sharif. The bureau said she had become the largest shareholder of the mills in 2008, having over 12 million shares in her name.
Maryam and her cousin are currently on judicial remand till Oct 23.