Nawaz Sharif actual owner of London flats, NAB prosecutor tells court

Nawaz Sharif actual owner of London flats, NAB prosecutor tells court

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court resumed Thursday hearing National Accountability Bureau Deputy Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi concluding arguments in the Avenfield reference against the Sharif family on third consecutive hearing.

Former prime minister 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.

Abbasi remarked that Nawaz and his family hid their ownership through offshore companies. “Nawaz Sharif is the actual owner of the London flats,” he said, adding that there are no records to show that bearers shares were transferred from Prince Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani to Hussain Nawaz.

Regardless, the Joint Investigation Team, which was formed to probe Nawaz’s assets following apex court verdict, tried to record the statement of the Qatari prince. The NAB prosecutor denied the allegations that the Qatari prince was threatened. 

Nawaz, Maryam seek exemption 

Earlier in the hearing, Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz had sought five-day exemption from appearance before accountability in the three references against the Sharif family.

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. 

The court has reserved the verdict on exemption pleas filed by Nawaz and daughter. 

Nawaz challenges court's verdict in IHC

Challenging the court’s verdict to dismiss his petition regarding hearing the final arguments of three references together, Nawaz filed another petition requesting the Islamabad High Court to delay the concluding arguments in Avenfield reference and give the verdict of all cases together.

The petition states that the prosecution’s star witness Wajid Zia, who is also a witness in all three references, can improve his testimonies in other two references. “All three references should have been heard together.”

'Sharif family failed to prove sources of income'

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.