Main players in Avenfield reference proceedings

Avenfield reference is one of the three graft reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau(NAB) on the orders of Supreme Court of Pakistan in Panama Paper’s case last year.

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Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Hassan Nawaz and Captain(R) Safdar are charged in Avenfield refernce, which revolves around allegations of buying London flats through money laundring.

If the court convicts all the aforementioned accused, the expected sentence could be from 7 to 10 years. Whereas the culprit would be barred to hold public office, and directions to law enforcement agencies to seize properties/bank accounts are on the cards, which can’t be ruled out.

The Key players in this case are:

Nawaz Sharif: 

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been named in the all three references, including the Avenfield properties one, filed by the NAB.

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.

Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz: 

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.

Maryam Nawaz: 
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.

Captain(R) 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.

The NAB contended that Nawaz was the beneficial owner of London’s flats, as he misused his power when he was the public office holder(PM).

Whereas ousted PM Nawaz refuted allegations, saying that he had nothing to do with his children’s business, as flats are owned by his sons Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz.

Wajid Zia: 

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.

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.

 

Robert Radley: 

Newsone has received a verified copy of UK based witness Robert Radley recorded statements, who is a key witness against the Sharifs in AvenField supplementary reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau.

According to the verified copy available exclusively to Newsone,  Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Harris was focused solely on cross examining the ‘Calibri Font’, whereas the alleged forgery pertaining to the trust deed of Sharifs offshore companies was not cross-examined and was left unchecked and unverified.

 

Robert Radley who is also a forensic expert mentioned while recording his statement a very important thing, which was apparently ignored by Nawaz’s counsel that the trust deed submitted by Maryam Nawaz in front of Supreme Court formed Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was ‘forged’ as the year when the deed was made seems to have been changed from 2004-to 2006.

However Robert Radley admitted that ‘calibri’ font existed in 2005, but a few IT experts had access to the font adding that it was commercially  available post January 2007.

Reported differently by media houses that the prime UK based witness, forensic expert Robert Radley on Thursday 22 February, 2018 while appearing before the Accountability Court via video link from London, admitted that the ‘calibri’ font was available in 2005, hence the perception was given that the main accused in Avenfield reference Maryam Nawaz, Captain(R) Safdar who presented their trust deed before the ‘Joint Investigation Team’ probing the off shore wealth.

The Accountability Court however declared Hussain, Hassan Nawaz proclaimed offenders owing to their no-show in the entire case proceedings in December, 2017.

Furthermore, apparent heir of Nawaz, his daughter Maryam Nawaz was indicted for allegedly submitting forged documents before Supreme Court led Joint Investigation Team(JIT) last year.

Nawaz and Maryam attended 78 hearings, as they often visited London in between to spend time with Begum Kulsoom Nawaz.

Safdar, however, attended nearly all the proceedings.

The apex court had directed the trial court to conclude the cases in six months. However, the court has only concluded proceedings of the Avenfield reference despite two deadline extensions — the latest one being July 10.

The other two corruption references — Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment and offshore companies including Flagship Investment Limited — have yet to conclude.

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