–Anti-graft watchdog seizes residential properties of PML-N leaders under NAO 1999, Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010
–Bureau will present orders for confirmation before accountability court within 15 days
LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday froze immovable assets owned by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and his sons, Hamza Shehbaz and Suleman Shehbaz, over charges of money laundering and possessing assets beyond known sources of income.
These properties are located in Lahore, Chiniot, Haripur and Abbottabad and will remain under the accountability watchdog’s custody for a period of 15 days, during which the bureau would seek confirmation of its orders from an accountability court.
Shehbaz’s properties include two houses in The Cooperative Model Town Society Ltd in Model Town and one bungalow in Nishat Lodges, Doonga Gali in Abbottabad was acquired in his wife Nusrat Shehbaz Sharif’s name.
A cottage, a villa, and a six marla plot in Khasra and two houses in Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Phase V Lahore bought by the former opposition leader in the name of his second wife Tehmina Durrani.
Hamza and Suleman’s immovable properties include two plots in Chiniot’s Tehsil Bhowana, nine in MA Johar Town Lahore and four in Judicial Colony Phase 1 (extension).
The order, signed by NAB Lahore Director General Shahzad Saleem, cites an “investigation against accused Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, Suleman Shehbaz and others for offence (s) of corruption and corrupt practices as defined under section 9(a) punishable under section 10 of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 read with section 3 of Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010.” NAB also said that the according to the evidence collected against the three, there were “reasonable grounds” for believing that they were involved in corrupt practices.
The order will remain in force for a period of 15 days within which the anti-graft watchdog will file an application in the accountability court under section 12 of the NAO 1999.
On Monday, the Lahore High Court (LHC) had dismissed a petition against step of freezing Al Arabia Sugar Mills – owned by Shehbaz’s family – by NAB.
The division bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi had heard the petition filed by Al Arabia Sugar Mills.
A counsel on behalf of the petitioner-mills had argued that the bureau had issued orders of freezing Al Arabia Sugar Mills on November 25, 2019.
He had submitted that the orders were illegal as NAB Lahore DG Saleem had issued the orders by using powers of NAB chairman.
He had argued that the bureau had launched an inquiry against Shehbaz, Suleman and others and no assets could be freezed at the stage of inquiry. He had pleaded with the court for setting aside the orders.
A NAB prosecutor had opposed the petition and submitted written parawise comments to the petition.
Subsequently, after hearing arguments of the parties, the bench had dismissed the petition.
On November 25, NAB Lahore had decided to freeze industries belonging to Shehbaz’s family members in the assets beyond means case.
According to details, Chiniot Power Limited, Ramzan Energy Limited, Al-Arabia Sugar Mills, Crystal Plastics Private Limited, Sharif Dairy Farms Private Limited and Sharif Poultry Farms Private Limited were included in the industries ordered to be frozen in separate orders issued by the chief of NAB’s Lahore chapter.
The NAB Lahore DG had directed the authorities concerned, including the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), to implement the orders with immediate effect.
Members of the Sharif family and their financial advisers were also given the copies of the directives.
In July, the anti-corruption watchdog had ordered to freeze all moveable and immoveable assets belonging to Shehbaz and his family members.
In separate letters written to various departments, including excise and taxation, revenue and district governments, the anti-graft watchdog had banned sale, purchase and transfer of all properties belonging to the former Punjab chief minister and his family members, including Durrani.
It is worth mentioning here that the opposition leader in National Assembly (NA) is facing a number of graft cases instituted by the bureau. Among the cases are the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam, Ramzan Sugar Mills and Saaf Pani scam.
In the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam, the former Punjab CM is facing charges of misusing his authority to illegally issue directives for cancellation of the contract with regard to the housing project in 2014, causing Rs715m loss to the exchequer, whereas the Ramzan Sugar Mills case pertains to the misuse of authority by Shehbaz by sanctioning the construction of a bridge to facilitate the mills.