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Supreme Court rejects NAB’s plea for reopening Hudaibiya Paper Mills case

ISLAMABAD: The embattled former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and members of his family heaved a sigh of relief on Friday as the Supreme Court dismissed the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) plea seeking reopening of the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against them.

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 NAB against a Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict, quashing Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against the Sharif family.

The bench dismissed the appeal through a short order after hearing arguments of a NAB prosecutor at length.

At the previous hearing, the bench asked NAB prosecutor to convince it of delay in the filing of the appeal for reopening of the Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference.

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 for the Sharif brothers. He said Dar also conceded that he opened fake accounts for the purpose.

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 were 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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