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NAB to appeal for reopening of Hudaibiya Mills case within 7 days

NAB to appeal for reopening of Hudaibiya Mills case within 7 days

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor general on Friday gave an assurance to the Supreme Court that an appeal challenging Lahore High Court’s (LHC) decision to revoke the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against the Sharif family and others will be lodged within seven days.

The assurance was made when Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rasheed’s petitioned to the apex court to reopen the case today.

The petition was heard by the five member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and including Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan that also heard the review petition case against SC’s July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case.

As per sources, once the SC takes a decision on the appeal, the case will be reopened and investigations will begin by the anti-graft body.

The complete record of the Hudaibiya Paper Mills was handed over to the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) while the probe into the Panama Papers case was underway.

Earlier, Rasheed, one of three petitioners in the Panama Papers case, had moved the SC against NAB, accusing the anti-graft watchdog of failing to file an appeal in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case in accordance with the SC’s Panama Papers verdict.

The Joint Investigating Team (JIT) formed to probe allegations against the Sharif family in the Panama Papers case had recommended the reopening of the Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference. In its July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case, the SC asked NAB to reopen the case as it filed other corruption references against the Sharif family and Ishaq Dar. The apex court had also criticised NAB for not challenging the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) decision to quash the case.

NAB had last month approved the filing of four references in line with the SC order, but it decided not to take any action regarding Hudaibiya Paper Mills on the grounds that the LHC had already decided the case.

Earlier on Thursday, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed said that the SC will take up the Hudaibiya Mills case if NAB fails to complete the investigation.

The Hudaibiya Paper Mills money laundering reference was initiated on the basis of an April 25, 2000 confessional statement of Ishaq Dar in which he had admitted to his role in laundering money to the tune of $14.86 million on behalf of the Sharifs through fictitious accounts. The witness was, however, pardoned by the then NAB chairman.

While Nawaz Sharif was not named in the interim reference filed in March 2000, in the final reference against the Hudaibya Paper Mills – approved by then NAB chairman Khalid Maqbool – the bureau had accused Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, Shamim Akhtar, Sabiha Abbas and Maryam Nawaz.

The LHC had quashed the case in 2014 as the PML-N continued to claim that Dar’s statement was taken under duress.