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Avenfield reference: Accused paid rent for flats which is owner’s responsibility, says NAB

By Faisal Kamal Pasha
June 07, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s deputy prosecutor general (DPG) Wednesday told the Accountability Court hearing Avenfield apartments corruption reference that the accused were paying ground rent for the flats which is the responsibility of the owner in Britain.

He said the Sharif family failed to provide any evidence to justify means for the acquisition of London flats and their money trail proved fake and rebutted by the prosecution and hence onus to prove their bonafide lies on the accused. The NAB DPG said the bearer shares certificates were turned into registered shares from the custody of the accused and not Qatari royals that is enough to prove that the flats were in their possession.

On Tuesday, the Accountability Court had dismissed an application of Nawaz Sharif for postponement of the final arguments. The AC in its order had noted, “Accused has not produced any defence witness in this reference. He has also not opted to be examined on oath u/s 340(2) CrPC. Therefore, the reason for rendering the decision simultaneously in all the three references is not existing at present.”

With this order, the court has expressed its mind that it would decide Avenfield apartments corruption reference first. Nawaz Sharif’s legal team on the other hand has not challenged this order before the Islamabad High Court as yet.

Meanwhile, NAB DPG in his arguments said the accused did not justify sources for acquisition of London flats, while Maryam Nawaz was beneficial owner. Under section 9(a)(v) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), the prosecution just have to prove the possession of these flats that is a practice in the cases related to assets beyond means.

Reading from the statement of Hussain Nawaz, the NAB DPG said the accused admitted possession of these flats since 1993 and they were paying ground rent for these flats. He said that in Britain the ground rent is being paid by the owner, and not tenant. He said whatever detail of sources they provided for the acquisition of these flats to the court has gone rebutted and the prosecution proved it fake. He said that onus to proof lies at the shoulders of the accused.

The NAB DPG said that as per statement of Mian Nawaz Sharif there was a financial arrangement between his father Mian Muhammad Sharif and the Qatari royal family. According to the DPG, the said arrangement has been disapproved and rebutted and the accused did not bring on record any other evidence.

The DPG said that Hussain Nawaz in 1992 went to London and in 1993 he shifted to Avenfield house. In 1994, Hassan Nawaz also shifted with him and flats were in their possession. The accused did not disclose ownership of these flats till 2006 until there was an amended law regarding British Virgin Islands offshore properties and they were forced to disclose the ownership. The bearer shares certificates for Nielsen and Nescoll were registered from the custody of the accused and not from the custody of Qataris, the DPG said.

Talking about Gulf Steel Mills (GSM) Dubai, the DPG said it was owned by Mian Muhammad Sharif and then 19-year-old Tariq Shafi was his benamidar. He said Mian Sharif kept himself away from GSM due to ‘Foreign Assets Declaration Act 1972’. About the share-sales agreements of GSM, the DPG said the April 14, 1980 agreement for 25 percent share sale is non-existent and therefore no question of 12 million dirham arises. Even if it is admitted, then the GSM had more liabilities than 12 million dirhams. The DPG said there is no proof that 12 million dirhams were invested with the Qatari royals. He said the accused Sharif family had been saying that they got money trail and they will produce it before a court of law. Before this court, he said, they got the opportunity to produce that money trail that they miserably failed to.

Further arguments will be heard today (Thursday).