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SC asks NAB why Hudaibya should be reopened

SC asks NAB why Hudaibya should be reopened

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday continued to press the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on why the apex court should allow for the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibya Paper Mills reference to be reopened.

A three-judge SC bench – comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel – is hearing the appeal against a 2014 decision of the Lahore High Court to quash the reference.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Alam asked the NAB prosecutor to satisfy the court on reasons as to why the bureau waited until now to file the appeal for reopening the case – two years after the high court’s ruling.

Deputy prosecutor Imranul Haq then read out the pleadings of the Supreme Court-sanctioned Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on the Hudaibya case, saying that the JIT had recommended reopening the reference because the money trail of Sharif family is allegedly linked with the mills.

On SC’s orders, the JIT had examined the cases registered against the Sharif family at the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and NAB, he said.

NAB deputy prosecutor told the court that the record shows the Sharif family started money laundering in September 1991.

Ishaq Dar’s confession recorded under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) shows how the money laundering was conducted, said Haq.

Initially, accounts had been opened in the name of Saeed Ahmed and Mukhtar Hussain, he said, adding that Dar had accepted the opening of fake accounts in his confession.

Justice Alam, however, told the prosecutor that the bureau had been asked to read only the majority judgement in the Panama Papers case. During Monday’s hearing, the court had asked the bureau not to ‘parrot’ the Panama Papers judgement, rather articulate its own reasons to convince the bench why the reference originally filed against the Sharifs in the year 2000 should be resurrected.

The 2000 Hudaibya Paper Mills money laundering reference was initiated on the basis of an April 25, 2000 confession statement from Ishaq Dar, wherein he 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.