NAB moves to freeze assets of Shahbaz and his two sons - GulfToday

NAB moves to freeze assets of Shahbaz and his two sons

Shehbaz-Sharif

Shehbaz Sharif. File

Tariq Butt

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday issued orders to freeze assets owned by leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif and his sons Hamza and Salman in different cities including Lahore, Chiniot, Haripur and Abbottabad, citing corruption offences.

The orders will remain in place for 15 days, during which the NAB will file an application in the relevant accountability court for their confirmation.

The NAB issued six orders, each listing separate properties acquired by Shahbaz, Hamza and Salman — all three of whom are nominated in corruption cases being probed by the anti-graft body.

According to the NAB, the evidence collected against the three PML-N leaders so far had provided NAB with “reasonable grounds for believing” that Shahbaz, Salman and Hamza were involved in “offences of corruption and corrupt practices.”

The cases against the father and sons are those of money laundering and assets beyond known income. The NAB said it has found that Shahbaz acquired several properties — that have now been frozen — in the name of his wives Nusrat Shahbaz and Tehmina Durrani in Lahore, Abbottabad and Haripur.

Hamza and Salman also acquired several properties in Lahore and Chiniot, which have now been frozen by NAB.

Nearly all the properties highlighted in the orders issued by NAB are located in residential areas.

The Sharifs have the right to challenge the NAB order or contest it before the accountability court, which will approve the seizure.

Meanwhile, the NAB Rawalpindi filed a reference in the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import contract case against 10 accused, including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail and former Pakistan State Oil (PSO) managing director Sheikh Imranul Haq.

The NAB submitted the reference in an accountability court in Islamabad.

The reference alleged that one company received benefits of over Rs21 billion between March 2015 and September of this year. It stated that the national exchequer will suffer a loss of Rs47b by 2029 because of the contract.

Former senior official of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) Saeed Ahmed Khan, Ogra chairperson Uzma Adil Khan, chairman of the Engro group Hussain Dawood, former chairman of the Port Qasim Authority Agha Jan Akhtar, former member Ogra Aamir Naseem, former managing director of the Pakistan State Oil Shahid M Islam and Abdul Sammad have also been named in the reference.

Both main accused persons — Abbasi and Ismail — have been behind bars for over four months in this case, while Haq obtained pre -arrest bail last Tuesday from the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

It has been stated that of the accused against whom the reference has been framed, two have turned approvers.

The NAB believed that corruption of some Rs20 billion had occurred in the scam.

Abbasi was arrested in connection with the case in July.

He is accused of awarding a 15-year contract for a terminal against the rules when he was the petroleum minister in former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet.

The case was closed by NAB in 2016. However, it was reopened in 2018.

Abbasi has said several times in the recent past that he did not commit any illegality in the award of contracts for LNG import, and could, therefore, prove his innocence at any forum.

He has presented the view that the import of LNG was the need of the time in 2013, when the country was facing an acute shortage of gas.

Earlier, it was reported that top most bureaucrats have prepared a draft of amendments to change the law governing the NAB that would soon be presented to Prime Minister Imran Khan for approval.

It suggests application of NAB’s law to over Rs500 million corruption cases, and says that rather than giving a role to the president of Pakistan and the NAB chairman for appointment of NAB prosecutor general, the power should be given to the federal government.