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NAB to start investigating Nawaz Sharif family

16 August, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: In addition to relying on the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report in the Panama Papers case, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has begun fresh investigations to prepare four references against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s family in accordance with the July 28 Supreme Court verdict for his disqualification.

The bureau appears unwilling to comment on whether the investigations for more evidence may take longer than the six-week deadline set by the court for filing the references.

The NAB Executive Board approved in its meeting on July 31 the filing of the references related to the apartments in London and steel mills in Saudi Arabia of the Sharif family, companies owned by the children of the former premier and possession by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar of assets beyond his known sources of income.

The court had observed that they had failed to prove themselves innocent before the JIT with regard to the ownership of offshore companies and assets which allegedly were disproportionate to their declared sources of income.

The bureau’s Lahore directorate will also hold investigations against Hussain, Hassan and Maryam Nawaz with regard to the setting up of the companies mentioned in Paragraph 9 of the court’s judgement — Flagship Investments, Hartstone Proper­ties, Que Holdings, Quint Eaton Place 2, Quint Saloane (formerly Quint Eaton Place Limited), Quaint Limited, Flagship Securities, Quint Gloucester Place, Quint Paddington (formerly Rivates Estates Limited), Flagship Developments, Alanna Services in British Virgin Islands, Lankin SA (BVI), Chadron Inc, Ansbacher, Coomber and Capital Free Zone Establishment (Dubai).

The Rawalpindi directorate will file a reference regarding the setting up of Azizia Steel Company and Hill Metal Establishment against Mr Sharif and his sons.

The same directorate may prepare the reference against Mr Dar for possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.

The sources said that NAB was required to submit admissible evidence before the court along with the prosecution witnesses to prove the cases.

They said the JIT report alone appeared insufficient to connect the former premier and his family with the alleged crimes and NAB would work on ensuring admissible evidence and prosecution witnesses through its investigations.

It would also complete the necessary documentation about the procurement of evidence, including seizure memo and statements of officials, the sources said.

The investigation teams will identify the local and foreign witnesses who can appear against the suspects.
NAO formalities

A NAB official said that if the bureau did not rely on the JIT report and went for fresh investigations, it might not use some evidence brought by the team before the Supreme Court in its 60-day proceedings.

According to him, the JIT, because of a time constraint, had collected certain documents, about the ‘money trail’ and foreign companies owned by the Sharif family, directly and through experts and they had been accorded weight by the Supreme Court.

The NAB investigation teams will collect the evidence under the procedure and formalities mentioned in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999 for the trial court.

Retired Lt Col Subh Sadiq, a former director general of Rawalpindi NAB, said the JIT report could not substitute the bureau’s investigation because its authors belonged to different institutions.

The NAB officials could not bypass the standard operating procedure and it was an offence under the NAO, he said.

The verdict included an instruction to the accountability courts to conclude the trials in six months.

The sources said the bureau had decided to exclude from the list of prosecution witnesses the JIT members, except the Federal Investigation Agency’s additional director general who headed it.

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