Maryam Nawaz arrested by NAB in Chaudhry Sugar Mills reference

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PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz was taken into custody by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday from Kot Lakhpat Jail, where she had been visiting her incarcerated father, former premier Nawaz Sharif.

According to an official press release issued by NAB, Maryam and her cousin Yousuf Abbas have been arrested in connection to the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case and taken to NAB headquarters.

On the directives of the NAB chairman, a team of doctors will conduct a medical examination of both detainees.

According to the press release, as per the law, NAB will present Maryam and Abbas to an accountability court in Lahore with an application for their remand.

Maryam had been due to appear before NAB in the CSM reference today. However, she had excused herself from appearing and had gone to meet Nawaz Sharif in jail instead.

PML-N sources confirmed that Maryam was taken into custody after she was shown the arrest warrants issued for her non-appearance before the bureau.

‘Blinded by political revenge’

PML-N leaders and supporters, including Marriyum Aurangzeb and Ahsan Iqbal, protested the development outside the National Assembly.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif in a statement condemned Maryam’s arrest and termed it as a “wrong step”.

“Maryam Nawaz’s arrest in front of Nawaz Sharif and his grandchildren is extremely condemnable, regrettable and shameful,” Shehbaz said.

“The government is blinded by political revenge and neither has the capacity nor the wisdom to understand the sensitivity of the situation. What message is being given to the public by the arrest of Maryam right before Eid?” questioned the PML-N chief.

Earlier, before the assembly session was adjourned due to PML-N’s protest, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned Maryam’s arrest in a strongly-worded speech on the floor of the house.

“The cruel tyrant Zia(ul) Haq was the only dictator who filed cases against the women of his political opponents’ families,” he said on the National Assembly floor.

“We are seeing this trend once again in this Naya Pakistan. You are so shameless […] History will remember that Imran Khan, who talked about justice […] (sanctioned) the arrest of Ms Maryam Nawaz without a conviction,” he declared before storming out in protest.

PML-N leader Iqbal accused the government of “trying to divert the nation’s attention from Kashmir” issue by arresting Maryam.

“The selected prime minister proved his friendship to [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi by giving him a gift. The ink on the joint resolution has not even dried yet and the nation has been divided by the arrest of Maryam Nawaz. Something is being concealed; national unity has been ripped apart by trying to divert the nation’s attention from [the] Kashmir [issue],” he tweeted.

PPP co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari also condemned Maryam’s arrest and said that the anti-corruption watchdog “want to arrest his sister (Faryal Talpur) as well”.

A resolution was also submitted in the Punjab Assembly against Maryam’s arrest.

Chaudhry Sugar Mills case

Maryam had appeared before NAB on July 31 to record her statement in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills reference. The statement was regarding ‘dubious’ business transactions of the Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) of which she was one of the major shareholders.

NAB sources had revealed to Dawn at the time that in January 2018, the PML-N government’s financial monitoring unit had reported to NAB a huge suspicious transaction involving billions of rupees in Chaudhry Sugar Mills under the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

The sources further confirmed that a NAB inquiry started in October 2018 detected that Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Shahbaz Sharif and the family of the late Abbas Sharif are shareholders in the company, along with some foreigners hailing from the UAE and UK.

“Huge investments were made in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills from 2001 to 2017 of billions of rupees in the name of the foreigners by issuing shares in the millions to them. Later on, the same shares of the company were transferred back to Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and Nawaz Sharif at various times without paying any consideration, which led to the conclusion that names of foreigners were used as proxies to make huge investments in the company for the reason that Sharif family did not have white money for investment,” a source close to the case had told Dawn.

NAB had re-summoned Maryam on Aug 8 (today), and asked her to provide details of her shareholdings in CSM, details of financial relations with the foreign nationals in question — Saeed Said bin Jabar al Suweidi, a UAE national; Sheikh Zakauddin, a UK national; Hani Ahmad Jamjoon, a Saudi national; and Naseer Abdullah Lootah, a UAE national.

She was also asked to provide details of remittances/telegraphic transfers sent and received by her from abroad.

Accountability judge Mohammad Bashir had on July 6 last year convicted former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam in the Avenfield properties reference and sentenced them to 10 years and seven years imprisonment, respectively.

The Islamabad High Court, however, had suspended the sentence and released Maryam.

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