Accountability court resumes hearing corruption reference against Nawaz Sharif

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family has resumed proceedings.

Accountability Court Judge Mohammad Bashir is conducting the proceedings of the Al Azizia Steel Mills reference, wherein National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) witness, Tayyab Ahmed, is recording his statement.

Tayyab is providing the court with foreign bank account details of the former premier.

On Tuesday, as Nawaz and daughter Maryam departed for London, following the approval of their exemption from appearance on Monday, only Nawaz’s son-in-law, MNA Capt (retd) Safdar, was present in court.
Nawaz was represented by his pleader (legal representative) Zafir Khan Tareen while Maryam by Jahangir Jadoon.
The witness Ahmed, an employee of a private bank, informed the court on Tuesday that Maryam received a cheque of Rs12 million on June 13, 2015, Rs28.8 million on November 15, 2015 and Rs19.5 million on August 14, 2016.
Meanwhile, Safdar also requested the court for an exemption from appearing in the court hearings.
As Ahmed was taking time detailing financial transactions of the Sharifs, the judge directed the recording of statements of NAB’s other witnesses: its own officials Umar Draz and Mukhtar Ahmed.
Later, Ahmed resumed recording his statement but due to shortage of time could not continue; thus the hearing was adjourned until Wednesday (today).
During Monday’s hearing, the court approved Nawaz’s exemption appearance plea.
The former premier had asked the court for a change in the dates of his exemption from appearance. Nawaz is now exempted from appearing in court from December 5 till 12.
However, the court dismissed Nawaz’s daughter Maryam’s request to change her appearance exemption dates, stating that the court’s earlier ruling on the matter will prevail.
The court had allowed Maryam to be exempted from appearance from November 15 until December 15.

The references

The NAB has in total filed three references against the Sharif family and another against the then-Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the accountability court, in light of the Supreme Court’s orders in the Panama Papers case verdict of July 28.
The anti-graft body was given six weeks, from the date of the apex court’s order, to file the reference in an accountability court while the accountability court was granted six months to wrap up the proceedings.
The references against the Sharif family pertain to the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, their London properties, and over dozen offshore companies owned by the family.
Maryam and Safdar are only nominated in the London properties reference. At an earlier hearing, the court also approved Maryam and Safdar’s bail in the Avenfield properties case and ordered them to submit surety bonds worth Rs5 million each.
Safdar was also directed to take the court’s permission before leaving the country from now on. The judge also provided a copy of the reference — spread over 53 volumes — to Maryam and Safdar.
NAB’s Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family.
Its Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family’s Avenfield apartments in London and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income.
If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.