Key players in Avenfield reference
Updated Thursday Jul 05 2018
The Avenfield reference pertains to the Park Lane apartments (flats 16, 16-A, 17, and 17-A Avenfield House, Park Lane, London, United Kingdom) of the Sharif family and comprises former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his three children, and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar as the accused.
The reference is among three filed on the Supreme Court's directives last year against the Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the much-talked-about Panama Papers case.
The accountability court is expected to announce the verdict in the case today (Friday).
If convicted, the accused can face up to a 14-year imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public offices, as well as the freezing of bank accounts and assets.
Here are the key players involved in the case:
Judge Mohammad Bashir
Judge Bashir has been conducting the proceedings since September last year when the NAB filed three corruption references against the Sharif family and one against then-finance minister Ishaq Dar in light of the Supreme Court's verdict in the Panama Papers case.
Appointed to the accountability court in 2012, Judge Bashir's tenure was extended for three years in 2015 by the federal government on the recommendations of the Islamabad High Court.
On March 8, the federal government approved another three-year extension in his tenure until March 12, 2021.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been named in the all three references, including the Avenfield properties one, filed by the NAB.
Sharif was disqualified and, ultimately, had to step down from the post of the country's premier following the Supreme Court's July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case.
Hussain and Hasan
Hussain and Hasan Nawaz, Sharif's sons who reside outside Pakistan, are accused in all three references ordered by the Supreme Court in its July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case: Avenfield properties, Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and Flagship Investment Ltd.
On December 4, Accountability Court-I declared the brothers as proclaimed offenders in all three references owing to their absence from the proceedings. Their trial will be held separately once they show up in court, the judge had ruled.
Of the three references against the Sharif family, Maryam and her husband, Captain (retd) Safdar, have only been named in the Avenfield reference.
While recording her statement before the court, Maryam denied being the beneficial owner of London flats and offshore companies Nielsen and Nescoll — which in fact own the properties.
She had also said that Hussain Nawaz, her brother, was the real owner of the London flats.
Capt (retd) Safdar
Capt (retd) Safdar, Maryam's husband and Nawaz's son-in-law, was also named in the reference.
While recording his statement, the former MNA from Mansehra categorically denied his involvement in the reference, with his legal counsel, Amjad Pervaiz, claiming that many of the business dealings occurred before his marriage to Maryam.
He claimed that the joint investigation team's (JIT) decision to include him in the references despite not being named in Supreme Court's April 20 judgment showed that the JIT's "intentions are mala fide".
Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi
Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi is the deputy prosecutor general of the NAB and has been involved in the case since the start. During his concluding arguments in the case, he argued that Sharif and his family hid their ownership through offshore companies.
“Nawaz Sharif is the actual owner of the London flats,” he had asserted.
Wajid Zia, an additional director of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), had headed the Panama case JIT that was formed to probe Nawaz's assets last year.
However, he became a controversial figure after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), of which Sharif is the supremo, claimed that he had used the services of his cousin's company in London in the probe against Nawaz and his family.
Zia was the star witness of the prosecution in the case.
Khawaja Haris had represented Sharif in the Panama Papers case.
He, however, had recused himself in June but came to represent the former premier again and concluded his final arguments late last month.
Haris made headlines when he conducted Zia's cross-examination for a period of 10 days, tiring both the prosecution and the observers.
UK-based forensic expert Robert W Radley came into prominence after he had concluded that Calibri font could not have been used in the "fabricated" trust deed of Avenfield properties submitted in the court by Maryam Nawaz as it was not commercially available before January 31, 2007.
At a later hearing, the witness admitted before the court that the font had been in existence since April 2005 in the beta version of Windows Vista.
Amjad Pervaiz was the legal counsel of Maryam Nawaz and her husband Capt (retd) Safdar in the reference.