ISLAMABAD: The trial in corruption cases against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his sons began on Wednesday as an accountability court summoned them on September 19 in a reference pertaining to the Flagship Investment and other companies.
Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir issued summons for the former prime minister and his sons Hassan and Hussain Nawaz with the directives to appear in person and face the charges levelled in the reference.
The summons were issued after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) resubmitted the references. The registrar of the accountability court had returned the references related to the Panamagate case to the top graft buster after finding several technical mistakes during their scrutiny.
By Wednesday evening, NAB resubmitted all the references returned to it for corrections and the court is also expected to take up the three others – about the Avenfield Flats, Al Azizia Company and Hill Metals Establishment, Jeddah – and one against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.
Islamabad Accountability Court Registrar Ahmed Mushtaq Qureshi, who is due to retire on September 15, had returned all the references to NAB with the directives to resubmit them after rectifying the mistakes by September 14.
Qureshi elaborated that many pages were not or incorrectly numbered and a few documents were not found attached as mentioned in the index of the references.
The judge had also asked the registrar to complete the scrutiny process and put the references before the court by September 14.
Meanwhile, the court’s security has been beefed up and policemen deployed outside the courtroom tried to keep journalists at bay.
On September 8, NAB had submitted four references against members of the Sharif family and Finance Minister Dar to the court in line with the July 28 judgment of the Supreme Court in the Panama Paper case about offshore wealth.
The top court had asked the corruption watchdog to file the references by September 8 against Sharif, his sons, daughter, son-in-law and Dar.
The ex-premier and his sons have been named in three references – Avenfield Flats, Flagship Investment Limited and 15 other companies, and Al Azizia Company Limited and Hill Metals Establishment, Jeddah.
His daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retired) Muhammad Safdar have been named in the Avenfield reference.
The references stated that the accused were given ample opportunity to explain and provide evidence regarding the accumulation of the assets but “they did not join investigation before NAB on the pretext of a review petition already filed before Supreme Court of Pakistan against [its] July 28 verdict”.
In addition, the references revealed, requests for Mutual Legal Assistance had been forwarded by the Panamagate joint investigation team (JIT) and their response would be placed before the court when received from foreign jurisdictions.
“So under this scenario, this reference may be treated as interim reference,” NAB stated. The bureau may file supplementary references later.
Citing the JIT report and proceedings at NAB, the references said it was established that the accused had failed to justify the sources of funds for the establishment and possession of assets and the pecuniary proceeds consequently disbursed among each other.
The reference against Dar revealed that NAB had yet to determine the role of the National Bank of Pakistan’s president and others in “aiding and abetting” the minister for a 91-fold increase in his assets within a short span.