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Thursday Dec 07 2017

Bank official completes recording of statement in Al Azizia corruption case

The accountability court hearing the case is located inside the Federal Judicial Complex. Photo: File 

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family resumed its proceedings on Thursday. 

Judge Mohammad Bashir was conducting the hearing into the Al Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment reference today. 

As the hearing went under way, Nawaz's counsel Ayesha Hamid objected to the inclusion of Noreen Shahzad in the witness list, saying she was not included in the list of witnesses by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). 

Hamid pleaded that the documents submitted by Shahzad cannot be made part of the case. 

Tayyab Ahmed (left) walks into the court on Wednesday. Photo: Geo News

However, the NAB prosecutor opposed the plea, saying Shahzad did not appear as a witness and only provided records, adding that Tayyab Ahmed is the main witness. 

Shahzad is a manager and Ahmed an employee of a private bank.

The judge then reserved his plea on Nawaz's counsel's objection.

Announcing his decision later, the judge dismissed Hamid's plea, and included the documents presented by Shahzad into the case.  

During the proceedings, details of Nawaz's local currency accounts were presented in court. 

Once Ahmed completed recording his statement, the judge adjourned the case until December 11, when the witness will be cross-examined. 

Last hearing

At the last hearing on Wednesday (yesterday), Ahmed continued recorded his statement for the third day.

Tayyab also provided the court with foreign bank account details and transactions of the former premier and his son Hussain Nawaz.

Hussain and his younger brother Hasan are also accused in the three references against the Sharif family. Due to their non-appearance in court, their trial has been separated and the two have been declared proclaimed offenders.

The hearing was then adjourned until Thursday (today) when Tayyab will continue recording his statement.

Nawaz and his daughter Maryam have been exempted from appearance by the court. Nawaz's exemption was approved from December 5-12 while Maryam's from Nov 15-Dec 15. 

The references

The NAB has in total filed three references against the Sharif family and another against the then-Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the accountability court, in light of the Supreme Court's orders in the Panama Papers case verdict of July 28.

The anti-graft body was given six weeks, from the date of the apex court's order, to file the reference in an accountability court while the accountability court was granted six months to wrap up the proceedings.

The references against the Sharif family pertain to the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, their London properties (Avenfiled reference), and over dozen offshore companies (Flagship Investment reference) owned by the family.

Maryam and Safdar are only nominated in the London properties reference. At an earlier hearing, the court also approved Maryam and Safdar's bail in the Avenfield properties case and ordered them to submit surety bonds worth Rs5 million each.

Safdar was also directed to take the court's permission before leaving the country from now on. The judge also provided a copy of the reference — spread over 53 volumes — to Maryam and Safdar.

NAB's Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family.

Its Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family's Avenfield apartments in London and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income.

If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets. 


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