Avenfield case: Haris implies alleged biased in NAB probe

ISLAMABAD: Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris on Wednesday alleged that the JIT probing the Panama Papers case had not conducted a transparent probe in the Avenfield reference.

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Nawaz and his family are facing three corruption cases in the accountability court after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed references against them in light of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case last year.

As the hearing went under way, the defence lawyer read the content of the NAB notice sent to Nawaz on August 18, 2017, in the court. He informed the court that his client had never refused to respond to a NAB notice

The notice asked my client to appear for verification of the statement given to the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the Panama Papers case, Haris informed the court. He added that Nawaz had given a statement to the investigation team in his defence.

“We did not tell NAB that we did not want to respond to the notice,” the lawyer contended, adding that the first notice sent by the anti-graft body was to inquire the accused of their defence.

Furthermore, Nawaz’s lawyer informed the court that a detailed response to the notice had been sent to NAB.

“Why were we being asked for defence [by NAB]?” Haris asked the court. He said that the anti-graft body had not conducted an investigation.

The prosecution itself admitted that there was no option available save for filing a reference, he said.

He said the points that could have benefitted the accused were not touched by the investigation committee, Haris said. He added that there was a link between the Qatari letters and transactions.

The defence lawyer alleged that the JIT did not clearly explain the relevant record in the letters written to the Qatari royal family. He further added that nowhere was the transaction record or agreement mentioned in the letters.

During yesterday’s hearing, Haris had reiterated that the prosecution failed to prove the ownership of the Sharif family’s London properties. He stated that his client was neither the beneficial owner of the London apartments nor had anything to do with the properties.

The cases

The trial against the Sharif family had commenced on September 14, 2017.

The corruption references, filed against the Sharifs, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Limited, and Avenfield properties of London.

Nawaz and sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Safdar are accused in the Avenfield reference only.

The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.

The court originally had a deadline of six months which ended in mid-March but was extended for two months after the judge requested the apex court.

Later, the deadline was extended twice more, with the new date falling somewhere around July 10 now.

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