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Supreme Court asks NAB to satisfy why Hudaibiya case be reopened

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday once again asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor to convince it of delay in the filing of the appeal for reopening of the Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference against the Sharif family.

The three-judge bench, headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, was hearing the appeal filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against a Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict, quashing Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against the Sharif family.

During the hearing, NAB deputy prosecutor Imranul Haq read out the findings of the Panama Joint Investigation Team (JIT) about the Hudaibiya reference and said it had recommended that Hudaibiya was the case of further inquiry.

He said the money trail behind the Sharifs’ overseas properties was linked with the mills.

He told the judges that former finance minister Ishaq Dar had recorded a confessional statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), admitting to laundering the money at the instances of the Sharif brothers. He said Dar also conceded that he opened fake accounts for the purpose.

At the previous hearing, the judges came down hard on Haq for relying on the Panama Papers case judgment to convince them to order reopening of the case.

Haq quoted parts of Justice Asif Saeed Khosa’s note in the April 20 verdict in the Panama Papers case, in which he had observed that the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case warranted further inquiry.

Justice Isa said that it was a minority judge’s view and barred the counsel from referring to it again.

The judges directed him to come up with his own reason as to why the graft reference filed against the Sharif family should be reopened.

The court restrained TV talk shows from discussing the merits and demerits of the case and ordered Pemra to ensure implementation of its orders.

The NAB through its Prosecutor General Waqas Qadeer Dar had filed the appeal, pleading the top court to grant leave to appeal to examine the legality, propriety and vires of the 2014 LHC verdict quashing the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case and set aside the impugned judgement.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Shamim Akhtar, mother of Nawaz, Shehbaz and late Abbas Sharif, Maryam Safdar, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shehbaz, Hudaibiya Paper Mills Ltd, the federal government and others have been named as respondents in the appeal.

According to the Hudaibiya reference, the Sharif family had been accused of setting up Hudaibiya Paper Mills Ltd to launder illegal money.

A joint investigation team set up to investigate the Sharif family’s offshore properties had recommended in its report that the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case should be investigated afresh.

Subsequently, a Supreme Court bench hearing the Panama Papers case had asked the bureau to reopen the case.

The Musharraf government had launched an investigation against the Sharif family members back in 2000 for their alleged involvement in money-laundering.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is a close aide and relative of the Sharifs, had given a confessional statement before a magistrate, alleging that Sharif brothers used the Hudaibiya Paper Mills as cover for money laundering during late 1990s.

Dar later retracted his statement and claimed that the statement was gleaned under duress.

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