PML-N’s Maryam sent to Kot Lakhpat jail for 14 days

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LAHORE: An accountability court on Wednesday rejected a request by National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) for an extension in the physical remand of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her cousin Yousuf Abbas in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills (CSM) case, sending the duo to Kot Lakhpat Jail on a 14-day judicial remand.

As at outset of the court proceedings, NAB prosecutors Hafiz Asadullah Awan and Haris Qureshi presented their arguments seeking an extension in the physical remand, saying that the case required further investigation.

The accountability watchdog arrested Maryam and her cousin on Aug 8 in the said case. Since then, their physical remand has been repeatedly extended.

During the proceedings, the NAB prosecutor said that during the investigation of two they had found out about an agreement for the division of the family’s assets.

A total of 14.5 million shares of the mills were divided among former PM Nawaz Sharif, former Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif, their brother Abbas Sharif, sister Kausar Bibi and mother Shamim Begum.

The shares of the mills were 26.2 million in 2008, as per the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan’s (SECP) record, they said, adding that there was a difference of 11.6 million shares and these were not included in the assets of the Sharif family.

They argued that Maryam Nawaz’s assets did not correspond to her income in 2008 and Sharif family members had to be summoned for investigations in the matter.

They said that Maryam Nawaz received amount sent by Sadiqa Saeed Mahmood through telegraphic transfers (TTs) in 1998 and the same amount was transferred to the mills later.

The same year, the accused received Rs160m but the relation of the accused with the sender was not clear, they said, adding that Sadiqa also paid a loan of the mills.

The prosecutors further submitted that the mills was shifted from Gojra to Rahim Yar Khan at a cost of Rs1.5 billion in 2015, whereas the source of the amount has to be determined yet.

They submitted that three foreigners sent shares in the name of Maryam Nawaz in 2008 and the same shares were transferred by Yousaf Abbas to Mian Nawaz Sharif.

They submitted that $4.8 million sent to Yousaf Abbas through TTs which was transferred to the mills and the act was aimed to extend the benefit to directors and shareholders of the mills.

However, defence counsel Amjad Pervaiz opposed the remand plea, saying that the bureau had already taken remand of the accused on the same grounds: agreement for the division of the family’s assets.

He submitted that investigations had already been conducted into the matter whereas sale and purchase of shares of mills were done under the SECP rules and Companies Act.

He submitted that the bureau did not have any authority to investigate the matter whereas the SECP was empowered for action in this regard.

He submitted that the sugar mill was established in 1991 and the shares were transferred in 2008, whereas the Anti-Money Laundering Act was implemented in 2010, and the same could not be implemented on past transactions.

He said that the Lahore High Court had already passed judgement over Sadiqa Saeed TTS in Hudaibiya Papers Mills case and that the bureau was trying to mislead the court.

He submitted that agreement of a division of properties of the Sharif family was in possession of the bureau from day first, adding that Mian Sharif died in 2004 and shares were divided in 2008.

He submitted that the bureau had levelled allegations of money laundering against the accused but it failed to give any evidence in this regard.

Subsequently, the court sent the accused on judicial remand till October 9.

The court remarked that jail officials would decide whether the accused should be lodged in Camp Jail or Kot Lakhpat Jail after the counsel on behalf of Maryam Nawaz requested for shifting the accused to Kot Lakhpat Jail.

Meanwhile, strict security arrangements were made as policemen were positioned inside and outside the court besides officials of the anti-riot force.