ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday turned down a plea filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to reopen Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against members of Sharif family.
A three-member bench of the apex court, comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Masheer Alam and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankh, has unanimously rejected the petition of the NAB, while Justice Masheer Alam read out the short order.
As the SC bench resumed hearing, NAB counsel Imranul Haq argued that the verdict announced by the LHC did not meet the legal requirements. He urged the court to reopen the case and issued notices to the respondents.
Haq further said that former finance minister Ishaq Dar, on whose confession the NAB had initiated the case, had filed an apology with the court.
Justice Isa remarked the NAB had not attached the statement with submitted documents on which the case had been launched.
The plea had been filed against the verdict of the Lahore High Court, which had quashed the case in 2014. The case, involving money laundering charges against Sharif family, had been initiated by the NAB in 2000.
The NAB moved the apex court to reopen the case following the latest revelations made by a report of Panama Papers case Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that had also recommended that the case should be reopened.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shehbaz and others had been made respondents in the case.
On July 28, the apex court while announcing the landmark decision regarding Panamagate case directed the NAB to reopen the case as it submitted reference in other cases.
Hudaibiya Paper Mills case
The Hudaibiya Paper Mills was allegedly used as a cover up by the Sharif family to launder money outside the country in the 1990s through Ishaq Dar.
Apart from being in the good books of Nawaz Sharif, Dar’s role in investigating the money trail of the first family becomes more central as he spilt the beans regarding money laundering during the second stint of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with respect to the case.
The Hudaibya Paper mills case was discussed extensively in the Supreme Court as well. Ishaq Dar had alleged before a magistrate back in 2000 that the Sharif brothers used the Hudaibya Paper Mills as a cover for money laundering during the late 1990s.
In his confessional statement on April 4, 2000, in connection with the Hudaibya Papers Mills Limited (HPML) case, Dar said that he had good relations with Masood Ahmed Qazi since 1970 and during his stay in London in early 1970s, he was staying with the Qazi family at Ilford, Essex (1970-72).
In his statement submitted before NAB that rocked the political corridors, Dar said, “Masood Ahmad Qazi belonged to a middle-class family and he used to treat me as one of his family members.”
Dar went on to say, “As far as their financial status in the year 1992 is concerned, according to my information there was no significant improvement in the previous status of the middle-class family.”
The finance minister stated that he established a Modaraba company named First Hajveri Modarba Company (FHMC), a Non-Banking Financial Institution (NDFI) in 1990 and the company started its operations next year with a paid up capital of Rs150 million, Dawn news reported.
He said that Nawaz Sharif had been his batchmate at Govt College Lahore during 1964 to 1966, “However, we had no connections at the time.” He came closer to Sharif family in 1990 after he was being recognised at the national level, particularly for his suggestions on national budgets, reads the statement.
According to the document, Dar introduced the Qazi family to Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif in 1990 at a function in Lahore.
“In early 1992, Mian Nawaz Sharif, who was then Prime Minister of Pakistan, contacted me and requested to provide a credit line of approximately Rs100 million to the business concerns of his family, from my Modaraba… subsequently, he sent me photocopies of the passports of Mrs Sikandar Masood Qazi, Nuzhat Gohar, Talat Masood Qazi and Kashif Masood Qazi (family members of Masood Qazi).
“He asked me to open/operate foreign currency accounts in their names in different banks with the foreign currency funds provided by the Sharif family,” it reads.
Following the presentation of details of transitions and other financial matters, Dar said: “They (Sharifs) made all this arrangement as they could not have explainable sources of these funds which ultimately landed in one of their companies.”
On the other hand, Ishaq Dar while clarifying his position in the backdrop of Hudaibiya Paper Mills case expressed that the confessional statement was taken under duress.