ISLAMABAD: An investigation officer of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has admitted before the accountability court in Islamabad that no witnesses or bank transactions are available to prove that deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif had sent any money to his sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz for meeting the cost of studies and their day-to-day expenses in the United Kingdom.
The admission from Mehboob Alam, the NAB investigation officer in the Al-Azizia & Hill Metals Establishment (HME) reference, came on Monday during the hearing of the reference before Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik.
Monday proved to be a tough day for the NAB officer as he was clueless about several questions posed to him by Sharif’s counsel, Khawaja Haris, during his cross-examination in the reference.
To a query from Haris, the investigation officer admitted, “No witness appeared before me who stated that any money was sent by accused Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to accused Hussain Nawaz Sharif and accused Hassan Nawaz Sharif to fund their expenses while they were studying in the UK.”
To the next question, Alam conceded, “No witness had stated before me that accused Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had been sending money to accused Hussain Nawaz Sharif and accused Hassan Nawaz Sharif for meeting their day-to-day expenditure from the year 1995 to 1999 or thereafter.”
He also said that during investigation “I had not come across any bank account of accused Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif through which any money was sent by him to his sons mentioned above for any of the aforesaid purposes.”
Alam’s cross-examination revealed that he recorded statement of a witness, Jahangir Ahmed, who had produced Sharif’s tax record. He said the witness had not produced the tax record of any company wherein Sharif was a shareholder. Moreover, he admitted that he had not collected record from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) regarding any company in which the PML-N leader was a shareholder.
In an attempt to bring up discrepancies in the investigation, Haris enquired from Alam about a letter of credit annexed with Hussain’s CMA submitted before the Supreme Court and later exhibited before the trial court. “I do not know what a letter of credit is,” Alam replied.
In response to a question pertaining to the transport of scrap machinery from Ahli Steel Mills in Dubai to Jeddah, Alam said it had come to his notice that Hussain had taken stance in the CMA that the machinery was transported from Dubai’s Ahli Steel Mills to Jeddah. He voluntarily said that Hussain had annexed a letter of credit with the CMA. He admitted that the description of goods as given in the exhibited document was different from the description of goods transported from Ahli Steel Mills as given in the letter of credit.
“Today I have seen both the documents and noted the difference between the descriptions of goods transported from Ahli Steel Mills in the said two documents,” he said, adding that during the investigation, he had not noticed the place of dispatch of goods as given in the exhibit was different from the place of dispatch of goods given in the letter of credit.
The investigation officer said it is correct that the description of goods is given as ‘scrap machinery’ in the exhibited document whereas in the letter of credit, the description is given as “second-hand rolling mill equipment in dismantled form”. He added it is correct that in the exhibited document “the place of dispatch is Dubai while in the LC it is Sharjah”.
Furthermore, Alam said he did not record statement of any witness nor did he issue notice to any witness to ascertain the cost at which Al-Azizia Steel Company and HME were set up. “It did not come to my notice during the investigation that Hill Metals Establishment was not established in one go rather it was established gradually over a period from 2006 to 2014,” he admitted.
Alam accepted before the court that he had gone through the statement of Hussain recorded by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which probed the Panama Papers scandal and “even after going through that statement it had not come to my notice that accused Hussain Nawaz Sharif had stated that the Steel Mill was not established all at once rather initially the HME was set up as a scrap processing plant.”
Haris will continue the cross-examination today (Tuesday).