NAB court reserves verdict in two graft references against Nawaz

01:25 PM | 19 Dec, 2018
NAB court reserves verdict in two graft references against Nawaz
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ISLAMABAD - An accountability court on Wednesday reserved verdicts in two corruption reference against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Accountability Judge Arshad Malik will announce the verdicts on Al-Aziz Steel Mills case and Flagship Investment reference on December 24.

Khawaja Haris Ahmad, counsel for the former premier, sought more time to submit more documents in the Flagship case, but the court rejected the plea.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor wrapped his final arguments on Tuesday in the Flagship Investment reference against the former premier, while the closing arguments in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case were submitted earlier this month.

On December 7, the apex court had directed the trial court to wrap up the cases by December 24.

Talking to media, the former premier rejected the allegation against him, stating that he never received any kickback in his life.

Tuesday's Hearing

While winding up the arguments in the accountability court, the NAB prosecutor, Asghar Awan, maintained that the former premier had been receiving a salary of AED10,000 from Capital FZE between 2006 and 2013.

He said that the members of the Sharif family were provided various chances to justify their assets but they did not avail them.

The prosecutor said the Sharif family took the plea before the Supreme Court that while they were in exile. Mian Mohammad Sharif, the former premier’s father who died in 2004, gave AED5.4 million to Hussain Nawaz and AED4.2 million to Hassan Nawaz to set up their business in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.

The Sharif family, the prosecutor said, claimed that the late Mian Sharif had gave money to his grandsons from the AED12 million which he had invested with the Qatari royal family.

The NAB counsel highlighted that Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani never appeared before the Panamagate joint investigation team to verify the money trail provided by Sharifs.

Khawaja Haris Ahmed, the counsel for Nawaz, contended that the JIT did not make serious efforts to record the statement of the Qatari prince.

Countering objections raised by the prosecutor over the money trail, Haris clarified that the late Mian Sharif set up Gulf Steel Mills (GSM) in the UAE in 1974, adding that it was sold to Abdullah Kayed Ahli.

The amount of AED12 million gotten by selling the mills was, later, invested with the Qatari roly family.

The prosecutor argued that these were private transactions according to the Sharif family as the amount was never transferred through official channels. He said that the JIT did not rely upon the Sharif family version as no official channel was used for transactions.

He further argued that the Sharifs were required to justify the investment of AED5.4 million by Hussain in Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment and AED4.2 million by Hassan in Flagship Investment and other companies but the family could not provide any substantial evidence.

He asserted that former prime minister was the real owner of the companies established by his sons while both his children were benamidar.

As the prosecutor wrapped the arguments, Haris sought time to submit a rebuttal over the prosecution’s allegations.

The Cases

As many as three references have been filed against the former premier in line with the directives of the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case verdict – a decision that ousted Nawaz Sharif from the PM House in July last year.

The accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir had sentenced the elder Sharif to ten years in the Avenfield reference. However, the conviction was suspended by a two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court.

NAB has moved the Supreme Court against the decision of the Islamabad High Court which will hear the case on December 12.

Besides Sharif, Maryam Nawaz was sentenced to 7 years and Captain Safdar was sentenced to one year in prison in the Avenfield reference which pertains to the pricey flats of the former ruling family.