NAB launches inquiry into allegations against Nawaz Sharif, others of laundering $4.9b to India

  • World Bank’s migration and remittance book 2016 confirms transfer of money, says the anti-corruption watchdog.
  • Experts say the bilateral remittances are basically made up according to assumptions.
Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The chairman of National Accountability Bureau, Justice (r) Javaid Iqbal has ordered to verify the allegations against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and others for money laundering.

In a press release, the anti-corruption watchdog took notice of the media reports regarding alleged transfer of $4.9 billion to India by the ex-PM and others outside the country.

The Bureau also quoted the World Bank’s Migration and Remittance Book 2016, saying it corroborates the allegations of money laundering.

In its report based on ‘an educated guess’, the World Bank had stated that Pakistanis sent nearly $5 billion to India in 2015.

The shocking truth behind Pakistan’s $5 billion remittances to India

It was estimated that a whopping $15 billion was remitted to India during a period of three years (2013-2015), making Pakistan one of the largest sources of remittances to the world’s second-most-populous country.

“Such massive money transfers helped India build up its foreign reserves while Pakistan’s economy suffered a huge damage,” said the anti-corruption body.

However, this is far from reality as the World Bank makes such guesses through models that use the population and origins of immigrants, average incomes and cost of living in each country to estimate how remittances flow.

According to the World Bank report, Pakistan remitted $4.7 billion to India in 2014-15, while $4.9 billion in 2015-16 in account of foreign exchange. Pakistan remitted about $5 billion to India annually, the report added.

However, the report is based on models of immigrants and the World Bank considers people who migrated during the partition in 1947 and since as migrants, and according to their estimates in their models, this amount of migrant population should be remitting X number of dollars. Hence their supposition in the model fails in this case because of the specific nature of migration during 1947, which completely severed ties between India and Pakistan.

“It’s an inexact science,” says Dilip Ratha, a leading economist at the World Bank and a manager of its migration and remittances development prospects group, which helped come up with the numbers.

Ratha said. “The bilateral remittances are basically made up according to assumptions.”

Nawaz Sharif is facing three corruption cases at the accountability court following the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case. A NAB inquiry is also under way against him for alleged illegal expansion of a road leading to his estate in Lahore’s Jati Umra locality.

Once formulated, this will be the fifth case against the ousted premier by the NAB.

Earlier today, the accountability court sought more time from the top court to end the trial on references filed by the NAB against members of the Sharif family.

Accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir, who presides over the hearings, has written a letter to the top court requesting for a second extension in the trial.

Earlier in March, the Supreme Court had granted a two-month extension to the accountability court to wrap the proceedings.

However, as the two-month deadline expires, the case is nowhere near its end, with the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investments still untouched, the country’s top anti-graft body is running out of time.

The Supreme Court had disqualified Sharif last year, forcing the three-time prime minister to resign. Sharif has dismissed the corruption charges as politically motivated.

The political future of Sharif, who leads the country’s most powerful political family and his party, has been hanging in the balance since then. If convicted, he can be jailed.