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October 28, 2020

Assets beyond means, money-laundering reference: Court extends judicial remand of Shahbaz

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October 28, 2020

LAHORE: An accountability court on Tuesday extended judicial remand of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif by November 2 in assets beyond means and money-laundering reference.

The accountability court judge Jawad Ul Hassan has reserved the judgment on an application moved by Nusrat Shahbaz, wife of Shahbaz Sharif seeking exemption from personal appearance before the court for health reasons.

The court has deferred the matter of conducting jail trial of the reference on the request of the NAB prosecution. The hearing of the reference started an hour late as the jail authorities couldn’t produce Shahbaz Sharif and co-accused, his son, Hamza Shahbaz on time.

As the hearing commenced, a lawyer of PML-N Lawyers Forum, Raja Khuarram Shahzad, was holding the rostrum for which the judge asked to leave the space. However, Khurran refused to leave the space saying that he is an associate of Shahbaz’s counsel advocate Amjad Parvez.

To which the judge replied that he exactly knows that who is associate of Amjad Parvez and associates of Amjad Parvez do not use such tone and language.

The attitude of PML-N lawyer made the judge angry and he remarked that he will conduct jail trial of the case. The judge further remarked that he is responsible for the health of lawyers, prosecutors, court staffers and the accused attending the court proceeding. “No one would be allowed to play with the respect of the court and jeopardize health of others in times of Covid. I am going to issue notices to DG NAB and SP security for legal assistance on conducting jail trial of the reference,” the judge remarked. However, later, the NAB prosecution requested the judge to defer the matter of jail trial which was accepted by the judge.

Meanwhile, jail authorities produced Shahbaz and Hamza before the court. The judge said that the charges against the accused will be framed today. To which Shahbaz’s counsel Amjad Parvez said that complete copies of the reference have not been provided to his clients. “The accused are only indicted when other accused who are not appearing before the court are declared proclaimed offenders,” Amjad added.

The counsel stated that statements of approvers are not provided to his clients. On this, the judge inquired NAB prosecutor whether approvers had recorded their statements before a magistrate to which prosecutor confirmed that the statements were recorded. The court directed prosecutor to provide copies of the statements to the accused, saying that after provision of statements to the accused the court will start indictment proceedings within a week.

During hearing, the judge, while addressing Shahbaz Sharif, said that NAB has moved an application before his court seeking closure of plots

inquiry against him (Shahbaz). To which Shahbaz replied that he does not know how many cases are against him.

The judge, while addressing Shahbaz, remarked, “NAB has closed plot inquiry against him whether I should accept NAB’s this application?”. To which Shahbaz replied that respected judge don’t accept all the things of the NAB. Shahbaz’s reply brought a laughter in the court room.

In the courtroom, Shahbaz said that he saved 81 billion rupees of the nation in Orange Line Train project. “I have served the country honestly and the government is making false case against him.”

The court after hearing all the parties adjourned the hearing for November 2, directing prosecution

to provide complete copies of the reference to the accused.

In the reference against Shahbaz family, The National Accountability Bureau had claimed that in the last 30 years, Shahbaz family assets ballooned from Rs 2 million to Rs 7,000 million that the family failed to justify.

The NAB alleged that the accused Shahbaz Sharif, in connivance with his co-accused family members, Benamidars, front men, close associates, employees and moneychangers developed an organized system of money-laundering for accumulation of assets disproportionate to his known sources of income to the tune of Rs 7,328 million.

NAB nominated former chief minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, his wife Nusrat Shahbaz, sons Hamza Shahbaz, Suleman Shahbaz, daughters Rabia Imran and Javeria Ali in the reference. Suleman Shahbaz is a proclaimed offender in this case.

The other nominated accused include Nisar Ahmad, Syed Muhammad Tahir Naqvi, Ali Muhammad Khan, Qasim Qayyum, Rashid Karamat, Masroor Anwer, Muhammad Usman, Fazal Dad Abbasi, Muhammad Shoaib Qamar and Haroon Yousfzai.

NAB also accepted requests from four people for becoming approvers against Shahbaz family in the reference including Muhammad Mushtaq alias Mushtaq Cheeni, his son Yasir Mushtaq, Shahid Rafique andAftab Ahmad. It has been learnt that the reference consists of 25,000 pages and 55 volumes.

In June 2019, Muhammad Mushtaq alias Cheeni and his son Yasir Mushtaq, front men for the Shahbaz family, while recording their statements before the court, confessed that they facilitated Suleman Shahbaz in whitening his Rs 600 million black money through fake loan agreements and engineered telegraphic transfers (TTs).