Avenfield reference: Nawaz, Maryam seek exemption from court appearance

Avenfield reference: Nawaz, Maryam seek exemption from court appearance

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz have sought five-day exemption from appearance before accountability in the three references against the Sharif family.

Nawaz and his family members are facing three corruption references in the accountability court — Avenfield Properties, Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investments — in which they are accused of money laundering, tax evasion and hiding offshore assets.

On Thursday, Nawaz and Maryam filed petitions seeking exemption from June 11 to June 15. The petition states that both want to travel to London to meet the ailing wife of Nawaz, Kulsoom Nawaz. The new medical report of Kulsoom Nawaz has also been attached with the petition. 

During the hearing on Wednesday, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi continued presenting his closing arguments in Avenfield properties case and remarked that the Sharif family failed to prove their source of income

The prosecutor accused Maryam Nawaz of hiding facts, adding that the accused individuals had tried to mislead investigating agency.

Abbasi further remarked that Hussain Nawaz shifted in the London flats in 1993 and even paid utility bills, while Hasan Nawaz had shifted in 1994.

“Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was the actual owner of Gulf Steel Mills,” he added. 

The corruption cases

The National Accountability Bureau has in total filed three references against the Sharif family in light of the Supreme Court's orders in the Panama Papers case verdict of July 28. 

The corruption references, filed against the Sharifs, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London.

Nawaz and sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Safdar are accused in the Avenfield reference only.

The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court. Their trial in the high-profile corruption case has been separated from other family members' owing to their continued absence.

The SC in July 28, 2017, Panamagate verdict, while disqualifying Nawaz Sharif from the post of prime minister, had originally set a deadline of six months which ended in mid-March but was extended for two months after the judge requested the apex court.

Later, the trial court's second plea for a deadline extension was approved by the Supreme Court which to both sides to finish the corruption cases by June 9.

On Monday, Judge Muhammad Bashir had remarked that he would write a letter to the Supreme Court requesting another extension to wrap up corruption references against the Sharif family.