Sharif family refuses NAB

LAHORE: (web desk-) Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his two sons – Hussain Nawaz and Hasan Nawaz – on Friday abstained themselves from appearing before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Lahore.

The NAB’s combined investigation team wanted to record their statements before filing references against them over Al-Azizia Steel Mills and the Hill Metal Establishment Company, sources said.

However, the Sharif family, in a letter written to NAB, linked their appearance to the decision of the Supreme Court on a review petition, filed by them earlier. The letter also requested the NAB authorities to send them its questionnaire at their residences.

The Bureau had summoned Nawaz and his sons for Friday, August 18, but they didn’t appear as, according to the family sources, they had not received any summons from NAB.Due to expected appearance of the Sharifs before NAB, all regular proceedings remained suspended, as the Bureau officials conveyed the visitors to appear again on some other day.

A heavy contingent of security officials was also deployed at the site in anticipation of the former premier’s appearance.On the other hand, the NAB sources claimed that not only they sent the notices through direct dispatch at Sharifs’ Jati Umra residence but also ensured the receiving of the notices on Aug 16.

Sources said the NAB team left for Rawalpindi soon after the given time expired on Friday afternoon. The Bureau would now consider sending another notice to the Sharifs and it could be sent in seven to 10 days.

“In such high-profile cases, routine/regular functioning might not be observed and notices could be sent any time,” the NAB official added. To a question, the official didn’t confirm that a questionnaire could be sent to the Sharifs or not. “In general practice, questionnaires are not sent to the accused parties,” he added.

The sources said that an eight-member Rawalpindi NAB team, led by its Director General Nasir Iqbal, had been assigned the Al-Azizia case, whereas another team, led by Director General NAB Lahore Maj (retd) Shahzad Saleem, had been assigned the task to investigate the London flats of the Sharif family.

Meanwhile, NAB has written a letter to the State Bank of Pakistan as well as to all other banks and sought details of all accounts of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, his wife and children till August 25.

The Bureau has already summoned the finance minister for August 23 at its Lahore office.NAB had also written to the Excise & Taxation Department, Punjab, to provide details regarding all vehicles and property the Dar family owns. Lockers owned by the Dar family would also be investigated. Thewould also be investigated. The Bureau had already written to the government of Saudi Arabia to get more details about properties and companies the Sharif family had established there.

The references against Nawaz Sharif, Hussain Nawaz, Hasan Nawaz, Maryam Nawaz, Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar, Ishaq Dar and others would be filed as per the judgment of the Supreme Court dated 28th July in Panama case, which also saw Nawaz Sharif being disqualified from the office of prime minister.

The NAB Rawalpindi would file these references in an accountability court in Rawalpindi. The six-week deadline of the SC to file these references would end on September 8. Sources said NAB would decide its future line of action by Monday after examination the reply, sent by the Sharif family counsel.

Sources told The News that NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry has given a free hand to the combined investigation team to independently carry out investigations. He will leave on a 5-day official visit on Monday to attend a conference of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, and will return on Friday.

NAB had also received copies of Volume 10 of the JIT report from the Supreme Court and initiated the process of examining the confidential record.

According to the letter, written to the banks, NAB had sought details under the provision of information under Section 19 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1000, with regard to the accounts of Senator Ishaq Dar, Tabassum Ishaq Dar (wife), his two sons — Ali Mustafa Dar and Mujtaba Husnain Dar — and his daughter-in-law Asma Ali Dar, and NBP President Saeed Ahmad in compliance of the SC order to file a reference against them for allegedly having assets beyond his known sources.

The National Accountability Bureau will formulate its future line of action by Monday after examination the reply of lawyer of the Sharif family, who linked the appearance of Sharifs with the decision of Supreme Court on the review petition submitted earlier by the Sharif family in the Supreme Court.

Sources said the NAB’s joint Investigation will take a decision either to send another notice or a questionnaire to the Sharif family.

Zahid Gishkori adds: Hussain Nawaz and Hasan Nawaz, in their separate replies, stated that “they were unable to appear before NAB team on stipulated time period as they were travelling abroad. Therefore, the authority could renew another appropriate date.

After going through replies of the Sharif family, the NAB team would give its final opinion soon either to issue another summon or to invoke Section 24 of NAB Ordinance 1999 to forcefully engage the accused in investigation process, senior NAB officials told this scribe.

“If the investigators deem it necessary in the light of the available evidence, they can order the arrest of an accused at any stage of an investigation,” said a senior official of NAB.

He said a final decision about summoning of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, daughter of Nawaz Sharif, would be made, as the apex court also ordered NAB to file reference against her and her spouse MNA Capt (retd) Mohammad Safdar on Monday.

Various NAB officials including Director Rizwan Khan, deputy directors Amir Marth, Nasir Junejo, Kamran Ahmed and Mehboob Amal and assistant directors Mohammad Wasik and Rehan Irfan are working on two references about around a dozen offshore companies.

Director Majeed Aulakh, deputy directors Tariq Dogar and Farooq Azam are working on two references — Flagship Companies of Sharifs’ family — and investigation against assets of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Law and Justice issued notification for appointment of two judges who will replace judges of NAB Court No 1 and three, who are going to retire in the first of week October, days before NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman will complete his tenure.

(this story orignaly appeared in ‘The News’)