Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in connection with the Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) case.
Members of the Sharif family are accused of being involved in money laundering under the garb of sale/purchase of the sugar mill’s shares. The bureau has accused Nawaz of being a direct beneficiary of Chaudhry Sugar Mills. NAB has also accused Nawaz’s daughter Maryam — who was arrested in the case in August along with her cousin Yousuf Abbas — and said she had over 12 million shares in the sugar mills.
The CSM reference is the latest in a series of court cases involving the former prime minister, beginning with his ouster from office in 2017 in the Panama Papers verdict to his convictions in two corruption references: Al Azizia and Avenfield.
A NAB team, after taking the former premier into custody from Kot Lakhpat jail — where he is currently serving a seven-year sentence in the Al Azizia reference, brought him to an accountability court in Lahore and sought a 15-day physical remand.
Judge Chaudhry Ameer Muhammad Khan questioned where Nawaz was, after which he appeared on the rostrum.
During the proceedings, which were disrupted by party workers attempting to take pictures with the former premier, NAB prosecutor Hafiz Asadullah Awan said that in 2016, Nawaz was the biggest shareholder of CSM, adding that he had remained a shareholder in Chaudhry Sugar Mills as well as in Shamim Sugar Mills.
The NAB prosecutor added that Maryam, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and other Sharif family members had been shareholders in CSM.
He said that the CSM accounts had received foreign funds, adding that in 1992 one foreign company had provided Nawaz with Rs55.5 million. Awan said that they still don’t know who the owner of this foreign company is.
After the NAB prosecutor concluded his statements, Nawaz’s counsel Advocate Amjad Pervez denied that his client had ever been a shareholder or director of CSM.
“This is not the first time that Nawaz Sharif’s assets are under scrutiny,” he said, adding that opposing governments had previously also investigated the formation of the companies, but nothing was found.
He said that in 1991, Nawaz was not the sponsor or owner of any company, adding that he had no role in the formation of CSM.
According to Pervez, all of Nawaz’s children had been directors and shareholders in the sugar mill. “For 30 years, Nawaz has declared his assets,” he said.
Ahead of the former premier’s appearance, routes leading to the accountability court were closed.
A large number of party workers also gathered outside the court ahead of former premier Nawaz Sharif’s appearance. — DawnNewsTV
PML-N leadership — including spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, PML-N senator Asif Kirmani, Nawaz’s son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar, Pervaiz Rasheed, and Ameer Muqam — and a large number of party workers have gathered outside the court in a show of support.
Earlier NAB references
Nawaz is currently serving a seven-year sentence in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case at Kot Lakhpat jail.
The former premier was handed a seven-year sentence in the Al-Azizia reference in December 2018. The same court acquitted him in a second reference related to Flagship Investments.
In July 2018, he was handed a 10-year sentence in the Avenfield corruption reference, which was subsequently suspended by the Islamabad High Court.
Additional reporting by Muhammad Taimoor and Ali Waqar