Pak’s anti-graft body launches fresh inquiry against Sharif over money laundering
Islamabad In a fresh trouble for Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the anti-corruption body has launched another inquiry against him on a journalist’s complaint that over Rs 56 million was sent out of the country by his family between 1988 and 1991, a media report has said.
The development assumes significance as Sharif, his sons Hussain and Hassan, daughter Maryam, and son-in-law former army captain Muhammad Safdar are already facing three corruption charges for money laundering and illegal offshore holdings in the Panama Papers scandal.
Sharif, 68, is currently in London along with Maryam to see his ailing wife Kulsoom Nawaz, despite the anti-graft body’s request to put their names on the Exit Control List fearing they may not return to face corruption cases in court.
The fresh inquiry over money laundering allegations was launched by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the complaint of Asad Kharal, a journalist/columnist, a NAB spokesperson was quoted as saying by Dawn.
The Complainant has provided details how Sharif and his family members allegedly sent money to foreign countries illegally, the report said.
Hawala dealers from Peshawar Khaista Khan and Jamshed Khan were engaged by the Sharif family to siphon-off large amounts of funds through their bank accounts, according to the complaint.
It said the Sharif family illegally sent funds converted into foreign currencies abroad regularly.
The complaint said Khalid Siraj, a first cousin and business partner of Sharif, had disclosed in a statement recorded before the Federal Investigation Agency in the Panama Papers case, the Sharif family’s misdeeds, including the transfer of funds aboard and purchase of assets in foreign countries.
“Between 1988 and 1991, Rs 56.896 million was sent out of the country,” the complaint said.
The NAB was informed that in 1988, USD 758,000 was remitted from the Bank of Oman in Sharjah to the bank’s Lahore branch and then this money was converted into Foreign Exchange Bearer Certificates worth Rs 145.06 million and was distributed among close relatives of Sharif and partners of his family members, the report said.
According to another allegation in the complaint, the Ramzan Sugar Mill owned by the Sharif family obtained USD 30 million from Faysal Bank in 1990 during Sharif’s first tenure as prime minister and by misusing his official power.
The Supreme Court had disqualified Sharif last year, forcing the three-time prime minister to resign. He, however, has dismissed as “politically motivated” the corruption charges linked to the Panama Papers case.
The trial is in the final stage as the Supreme Court has directed the trial court to conclude the case by July 10.
The corruption references against Sharif and his family were filed after his ouster.
Sharif had complained of not getting a “fair trial”. He alleged the court had already decided to pass a verdict against him before the July 25 general election.
The political future of Sharif, who heads the country’s most powerful political family and is the de-facto leader of the ruling PML-N, is uncertain and he could be jailed if convicted.
Sania Ehsan The Kootneeti Team - South Asia Monitor