NAB team partially succeeded in London, returns home

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LAHORE: After recording statements of those involved in conducting a forensic examination of the Calibri font used by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz in certain documents presented in the Panama Papers case, the team of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials returned from London citing “partial success”.

The NAB team returned after a week’s stay in London during which they recorded statements of various witnesses. They were, however, told to use a government-to-government channel if they wanted information regarding the Avenfield properties owned by the Sharif family.

An official source told Dawn that the NAB team had succeeded in recording the statements of witnesses who had carried out the examination of the Calibri font used in documents presented in court, as well as certain individuals regarding the purchase of the Avenfield properties. “However the Bureau failed to get any help from the UK authorities in this regard,” he said, adding that the NAB was told to utilise a “government-to-government channel” in order to obtain the required official records. “It remains to be seen whether the PML-N government, under PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, would accommodate such a request from NAB,” the source said.

They were told to use a govt-to-govt channel to obtain official details

Earlier, the NAB had written letters to UK authorities, in connection with a mutual legal agreement, seeking details of the Sharif family’s Avenfield flats 16, 16-A, 17 and 17-A, Avenfield House and Park Lane, London. After receiving no reply from the UK authorities, the NAB sent a team to London to pursue the matter in person. Volume-10 of the Supreme Court-appointed Joint Investigation Team’s report is said to deal with mutual legal business agreements between the Sharif family and various foreign governments.

NAB spokesperson Nawazish Ali Asim, however, did not reply to Dawn’s queries in this regard.

Maryam Nawaz, who was indicted in NAB references along with her father and husband retired Capt Muhammad Safdar, is accused of presenting fake documents to the JIT on two declarations dated 2006, typed in Calibri font which was not commercially available till 30th January, 2007.

According to the JIT report, Maryam had declared herself a “trustee, not the owner” of the Avenfield properties. However, according to the JIT, her claim turned out to be “completely wrong” and it was proven that she had owned the properties managed by Minerva Services. The JIT added that Maryam was the “real and ultimate beneficial owner” of the Avenfield apartments.

The NAB’s combined investigation team (CIT) had prepared four corruption and money laundering references against Mr Sharif, his sons Hassan and Hussain, Maryam and Capt (retd) Safdar, and a separate reference against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for owning assets beyond known sources of income.

The NAB has already initiated the process of declaring Mr Sharif’s sons proclaimed offenders on orders of the accountability court. They have been given the deadline of Nov 10 to appear before the court in graft cases, otherwise, they will be declared proclaimed offenders and the bureau will initiate the process of issuing red warrants for them.

In addition to the Avenfield properties, the references against the Sharif family include their other offshore holdings: Azizia Steel Mills, Hill Metal Company, Flagship Investments, Hartstone properties, Que Holdings, Quint Eaton Place 2, Quint Saloane, Quaint, Flagship Securities, Quint Gloucester Place, Quint Paddington, Flagship Developments, Alanna Services (BVI), Lankin SA (BVI), Chadron, Ansbacher, Coomber and Capital FZE, Dubai.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017

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