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August 22, 2019

Physical remand of Maryam, Yousaf, Hamza extended for 14 days


August 22, 2019

LAHORE: An accountability court on Wednesday extended the physical remand of Maryam Nawaz and her cousin Yousaf Abbas for another 14 days. They are accused in an ongoing investigation related to alleged money laundering for purchasing shares in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills.

NAB officials produced Maryam Nawaz and Yousaf Abbas before Accountability Court Judge Naeem Arshad amid tight security as contingents of law-enforcement agencies were deployed on the court premises. The NAB implored the court to extend the physical remand of both the accused for further investigations. The NAB informed the court that Maryam was reluctant in cooperating with the investigators.

The NAB submitted till date investigation report of the case to the court, alleging that Maryam and her father Nawaz Sharif laundered approximately two thousand million. The report said that assets of the accused were beyond their means. The NAB informed that Maryam Nawaz was director of the Chaudhry Sugar Mills from 1992 to 1997 and was also chief executive of the mill in 1995-96. The report said that Maryam had 864,000 shares in 1995-96 but in 2008-10, she had 12 million shares of the mill and was 47 per cent owner of the CSM. It said Nawaz Sharif was a small shareholder of the mill in 1999 but was owner of 46 per cent shares in 2015-16.

The NAB claimed that Maryam Nawaz was continuously changing her stance regarding shares being transferred in her name from foreign nationals. It claimed that Maryam had said that perhaps her grandfather had a business link with foreign nationals, but Maryam’s grandfather had died in 2004 but the shares were transferred in her name in 2008. The report said Maryam Nawaz was a trained politician and was reluctant in telling details of the shares.

The NAB informed that in October 2013, Rs 500 million were transferred from abroad to the account of Yousaf Abbas and the tax record of Yousaf states that he has no business in foreign lands. It stated that Maryam and Yousaf purchased another sugar mill namely Shamim Sugar Mill for an amount of Rs 1.2 billion. Later, in 2013, the mill was sold and the bureau has summoned new owners with the record. Moreover, the accused didn’t answer from where the capital came for the purchase of the Shamim Sugar mill.

On the other end, the counsel of Maryam Nawaz reiterated old arguments, saying that the NAB had already done investigations into the case and had completed a trial in the Panama case. He said that in the said inquiry, the arrest of her client was amounting to double jeopardy and malicious prosecution. The court after hearing arguments of both parties extended the physical remand of both the accused by September 4.

As per details of Chaudhry Sugar Mills money-laundering investigations, the NAB in January 2018 received a Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) report describing huge suspicious transactions in billions of rupees in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills under the Anti Money Laundering Act. It is pertinent to mention here that in January 2018, the PML-N was ruling the country.

After receiving the FMU report, the NAB started its inquiry in October 2018 and found that Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Shahbaz Sharif and family and Abbas Sharif and family are shareholders in the company along with some foreigners from the UAE and the UK. During probe, it revealed that huge investments were made in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills from 2001 to 2017 in billions of rupees to issue shares in the name of foreigners. Interestingly, later on, same shares of the company were transferred back to Maryam, Hussain and Nawaz Sharif on various occasions without paying any money to the foreign business partners.

Maryam Nawaz during her previous hearing before the NAB CIT failed to establish her business links with foreign nationals including Saeed Saif Bin Jabar Al-Suweidi (UAE national), Sheikh Zakauddin (UK national), Hani Ahmad Jamjoom (Saudi national) and Naseer Abdullah Lootah (UAE national) after which she was summoned for August 8 and arrested.

NAB sources claim that investigators have come to a conclusion that the names of foreigners were used as proxies to make huge investments in the company for the reason that the Sharif family did not have white money for investment. They allege that the Chaudhry Sugar Mills investigation is a classic case of money laundering.

Moreover, the NAB is investigating all members of the Shahbaz family for alleged money laundering and having assets beyond means. The NAB had summoned Hassan and Hussain but both didn’t appear as they are absconders in the Avenfield case and are living in London. Salman Shahbaz is also an absconder in the Ramzan Sugar Mills and money laundering investigation case and is living with his cousins in London.

Meanwhile, the accountability court extended the physical remand of Hamza Shahbaz for 14 days in a money laundering and asset beyond means case. Hamza was produced in the court after the hearing of Maryam and Yousaf case.

The NAB informed that Hamza was asked about establishment of a distillery by the Ramzan Sugar Mills at a cost of Rs 3500 to 4000 million. But Hamza has no answer for that and said that the same may be asked from business managers.

The NAB informed the court that the accused is not cooperating with the investigators. The NAB implored the court to grant further physical remand of the accused. The court extended the physical remand of Hamza till September 4.