ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed in the Supreme Court on Friday an appeal against the order of the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench that had lifted travel restrictions on Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif.
The SC registrar office, however, raised the administrative objections to the appeal according to which NAB did not implead necessary parties as respondents and the date of the LHC order mentioned in the appeal was incorrect. It asked the bureau to remove these objections so that it could be fixed before an SC bench.
The LHC had on March 26, while accepting Shahbaz Sharif’s petition, removed his name from the ECL and allowed him to travel abroad.
Anti-graft watchdog contends LHC order adversely affecting inquiry into assets case
NAB in its appeal contended that the Lahore NAB had authorised an inquiry against Shahbaz Sharif, his sons Hamza and Suleman Shahbaz and other family members for allegedly accumulating assets beyond their known sources of income.
According to the appeal, the inquiry was authorised after the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) under the provisions of Anti Money Laundering Act 2010 disseminated necessary information pertaining to the Suspicious Transaction Reporting (STR) on accounts of the PML-N president and his family members.
The reason for suspicion was transfer of huge amount into the accounts through cheques leading to cash withdrawals. Two employees of Ramzan Sugar Mills — Fazal Dad Abbasi and Masroor Anwar — have been identified as persons conducting cash transactions.
“The investigation conducted so far has revealed that huge/suspicious cash transactions have been conducted in the accounts of M/s Ramzan Sugar Mills, Sharif Feed Mills, Sharif Dairy Farms and personal accounts of Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Suleman Shahbaz Sharif and Malik Maqsood Ahmed,” the appeal said, adding that the latter was absconding as he did not join the investigation.
“The inquiry further revealed that Shahbaz Sharif and his family inherited only Ramzan Sugar Mills as a result of family settlement agreement 2009 among the family of Mian Mohammad Sharif (late). But the accused Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif and Suleman Shahbaz Sharif established more than 15 companies in Pakistan with huge investments from the year 2007 to 2018,” it claimed.
The appeal said the worth of Shahbaz Sharif’s assets was Rs18.37 million in 2003 which increased to Rs159m in 2017, whereas Hamza’s assets amounted to Rs19.8 million in 2003 which increased to Rs411.5m in 2017.
NAB contended that “keeping in view of gravity of the offence and the extent of role and involvement in the commission of the offence in the instant case”, Shahbaz Sharif’s name was placed on the ECL. However, it added, the LHC had removed his name from the ECL.
Discussing the LHC order, the bureau pointed out that while the alternative remedy of submitting representation before the interior ministry was available to Shahbaz Sharif, he had filed a constitutional petition to get the same relief.
About LHC’s observations over the assets, STR and definition of corruption and corrupt practices in the instant case, the appeal said: “The observations given by the Hon’ble division bench of Lahore High Court are not any plausible reasons and even to highlight any act of NAB which shows that the right of Shahbaz Sharif guaranteed under the Constitution has been infringed.”
NAB requested the apex court to set aside the LHC order to restrict the foreign travel of Shahbaz Sharif as it was adversely affecting the ongoing inquiry against the opposition leader in the assets case.