Govt for action against judges who ‘helped’ Sharifs evade punishment

Fawad says Sharifs not only laundered money but also hoodwinked state institutions

By: News Desk      Published: 12:59 PM, 11 May, 2021
Sharif family
File photo.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday demanded the Supreme Court to hold those judges accountable who ‘helped’ the Sharif family escape punishment in Hudaibiya Paper Mills’ case, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

Explaining the case in a series of tweets uploaded on Tuesday, Fawad said when the Sharif family challenged action by the authorities in the case in the Lahore High Court, the latter pronounced a split decision. “From there, the case went to the court of referee judge who closed the Hudaibiya Mills’ case once and for all in 2014,” the federal minister said, and added that interestingly trial of the case was held not on a single day despite the fact that a lot of investigation had already been done. 

“And later, it emerged from the Panama leaks that the judge who had ordered the closure of the case, himself owned assets abroad. Unfortunately, no action has been taken against that judge as well,” Fawad regretted. 

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“Now some new facts have come to light in this case, and we hope that courts will also hold those judges accountable who pronounced ‘unfair’ decisions despite proofs. It was time that all those who ‘connived’ with the Sharif family should be made to pay for their deeds. Pakistan’s future is linked to the rule of law,” the information minister said. 

He said that the case involved financial embezzlement of Rs1242 million; which was a bigger scandal than that of Panama offshore companies of the Sharif family, and which first came to light in 2001 when the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed a reference against the family in Hudaibiya papers.  The minister further said both sons of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz were all central characters in the scam. 

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He further said that former finance minister Ishaq Dar assisted the Sharif family by opening fake benami bank accounts of a foreign currency. “And when Dar was caught by the NAB, he became an approver in the case and gave his detailed statement to the concerned officials,” Fawad said, and added, “But later he went back on his own words on the pretext that the confession was extracted from him under duress.”

Fawad added that entire financial scam was very cunningly executed. “When NAB, Islamabad officials dug deeper into the scandal and checked the Hudaibiya Paper Mills’ Private Limited record, it dawned upon them that Rs30.499 million and Rs612.273 million were shown as share deposits in the company’s accounts of 1996-97 and 1997-98, respectively. The investigators were stunned to find such huge amounts of cash inflow into the accounts of the company whose total volume before this ‘investment’ was merely Rs95.7 million and whose total losses amounted to Rs809.834 million. Therefore, the anti-corruption watchdog gave instructions for an inquiry into the new startling disclosures under the NAB Ordinance of 1999,” the minister elaborated.   

Giving further details of the case, Fawad said when the matter was probed, it was found out that Mian Muhammad Sharif, Begum Shamim Akhtar, Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif, Maryam Safdar, Sabiha Abbas, Hussain Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz who were all part of the Hudaibiya Mills’ administration had in their accounts a large amount of ill-gotten wealth, and above all they were unable to tell to the authorities the sources of this wealth.

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“All these ‘characters of an illegal transaction’ took advantage of The Protection of Economic Reforms Act, 1992 to open fake bank accounts of foreign currency and hence deposited most of their ill-gotten money in these accounts,” he said, and added that when these fake accounts became public, the Sharif family decided to deposit money in the Hudaibiya Mills’ accounts directly. And for that the Sharifs arranged different dollar telegraphic transfers (TTs) for their mills’ accounts equivalent to the value of foreign currency. “Just like PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif have sent their money abroad,” he explained.  

Fawad further said that around Rs1242.732 million rupees landed in Sharifs’ accounts; an amount bigger than what was detected in Panama leaks case. 

The information minister said that according to NAB findings, the Sharif family not only laundered money and concealed their assets but also committed the crime of hoodwinking different state institutions.  

“And when accountability court took up the case for hearing during Pervez Musharraf era, the family struck a deal with the military dictator and left for Saudi Arabia,” he said, and added that when the case was again taken up for hearing in 2008-2009, PML-N and PPP’s nexus prevented further progress on it, and it was argued that there could be no further proceedings in the case since the case’s documents did not bear the NAB chairman signatures.  

    

Reporter Zeeshan Bhatti