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July 11, 2018

NAB not opening corruption reference against Nawaz’ mother


July 11, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Despite the clear and strong recommendations of the Panama Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in Volume 8B of its final report, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) hasn’t reopened a corruption reference against Mst Shamim Akhtar, 85, mother of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, for constructing a home in Raiwand.

The JIT had declared in its final report that the Sharif family, given its financial conditions, was able to construct these buildings in Raiwand, Lahore and thus this amounts to committing corruption and corrupt practices. As Mst Shamim Akhar is the owner of Raiwand residence of Sharif family, the JIT had recommended that in presence of ‘strong evidence’, NAB should reopen the corruption reference No 7 of 2000 against her and his son Nawaz Sharif. The JIT also quoted the report of experts from Nespak (under Musharraf) of giving approximate cost incurred on construction of these buildings in hundreds of millions. Not only this, NAB is still shying away to implement the recommendation of the Panama JIT for reopening of the corruption case of Murree home owned by the Sharif family. At the same time, NAB hasn’t reopened as yet the investigation in the alleged corruption by the Sharif family to purchase the land in Raiwand for their residence and agriculture purposes despite strong recommendations of the JIT in this behalf. The findings and recommendations given in the volume 8 of the final report the Panama JIT suggest that Sharif family was like baggers and had nothing to purchase all these properties and make certain investments as all their businesses were either closed or were facing losses. The Panama JIT in this volume make strong recommendations for reopening of all pending references, investigations and inquiries as ‘strong evidence’ was present to proceed in this cases but NAB hadn’t proceeded because of unexplained circumstances.

Regarding the corruption reference against the mother of Nawaz Sharif, JIT informed the Supreme Court that the brief facts of this case are;

“a- An investigation against Sharif Family (Mian Muhammad Sharif, Mst Shamim Akhter, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Mian Abbas Sharif and other family members was authorised by NAB chairman on allegations of accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income (making investments on the construction of palatial mansions and buildings in Shamim Farm, Raiwand, Lahore).

b- Investigation was completed and a reference in Accountability Court was recommended to be filed against 3 accused persons i.e. 1). Mian Muhammad Sharif, 2). Mst Shamim Akhter and 3) Mian Muhammad Nawaz Shari! NAB chairman approved the reference against above said accused persons and a reference no. 7/2000 was filed before the Accountability Court, Attock Fort.

c- Investigation revealed that an area measuring 401 kanals was acquired by Mian Muhammad Sharif and Mst Shamim Akhter which was later used in construction of palatial mansions and other ancillary buildings thereon.

d- The record collected during the investigation revealed that the said land is in the names of Mian Muhammad Sharif and Mst Shamim Akhter (father and mother of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif) which is surrounded by a high boundary wall.

e- Investigation further revealed that a number of buildings and structures have been constructed both inside and outside the boundary wall which are occupied by the accused persons. Construction of these properties have been carried out between 1992-1999.

f- A team of Nespak was associated with the investigation which conducted a survey of the buildings situated inside the Raiwand estate. According to the survey report, the investments and expenditure on the buildings and structures erected amounted to an estimated Rs247.352 million. Investigation revealed that an amount of Rs171.130 million was contributed by Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif for construction of his own house and the house of Mian Shabbaz Sharif located at the estate.

g- The investigation further revealed that cumulative income of the accused persons declared in the income tax returns filed during the year 1992-2000 amounted to Rs41.190 million. Whereas the total investments made by the accused persons for the construction of the building amounted to estimated Rs274.352 million which shows the amount spent on the construction of Raiwand buildings and acquisition of Raiwand land is disproportionate to the known sources of income of accused persons.”

While discussing the current status of this high profile case, the Panama JIT wrote in its report, “This reference was filed in Accountability Court Attock Fort on 27-03-2000. At that time Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was in custody. He was later exiled to Saudi Arabia on 10-12-2000. The case was adjourned sine die on 12-04-2001 on the request of NAB additional prosecutor general on the pretext that the accused were not available and were abroad. On 25-08-2007 on the application of prosecution the court ordered for deletion of the name of Mian Muhammad Sharif who had expired. The case was again adjourned sine die on 21-08-2008. NAB chairman again filed the application for revival of the case on 17-07-2012. Meanwhile, a writ petition No2619/2011 was filed in two-member bench of Lahore High Court by Sharif family for quashing of investigation. There was split decision and the matter was referred to referee judge on the point that whether NAB can investigate the matter or not. Referee judge vide his order dated 11-03-2014 announced that the reference stands quashed and NAB cannot re-investigate the issue. No appeal against this order was filed by NAB in Supreme Court of Pakistan.”

The Panama JIT after an in-depth probe into this matter gave following five conclusions;

“a. The trial of the case was never held by the Accountability Court.

b. The accused persons could have joined the trial and agitate their observations therein through section 265(k) CrPC.

c. It is further observed that the shortcomings of the investigation cannot overshadow the gravity of the offence and in this case a huge difference between declared income and amount of investments made by the accused persons has been observed, explanation of which is yet to come on record.

d. The offence of accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income still exists and evidence collected during the process of investigation should have been provided a chance to go through the process of trial or if there were shortcomings in investigation, the matter should have been referred for re-investigation.

e. Strong documentary evidence is available on record.”

Finally, the Panama JIT comprising six members from ISI, MI, SBP, SECP, NAB and FIA gave following five recommendations;

“a. This decision was announced on 11-03-2014. However, NAB did not prefer an appeal before the Supreme Court against this decision.

b. There is a need to further investigate the matter to dig out further sources of income of Sharif family so that sources of funds for construction of properties could be known. c. Further investigation will also provide an opportunity to Sharif family to get associated with the investigation and justify their assets through their legitimate sources of income. It is therefore recommended that this case may be re-opened for further investigation.

d. There is another investigation which has been under process with NAB since 29-2-2000 on the allegations of acquisition of land by Sharif Family through coercion in/around Raiwand which is disproportionate to their known sources of income. It is suggested that this investigation may also be clubbed with the above said investigation if reopened.

e. NAB may be ordered to review the case and file an appeal before Supreme Court for assailing the orders of the Lahore High Court keeping in view the available incriminating evidence and matter be referred for re-investigation as evaluation reports of the properties by Nespak viz a viz the financial resources of Sharif family as per their tax record are grossly disproportionate and remained un-explained by the Sharif family. Further ongoing cases with NAB on the same issue may be merged with this case if re-investigation is allowed.

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