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NAB move to freeze Shahbaz properties

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Lahore, on Wednesday moved to get all movable and immovable properties in the country of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shahbaz Sharif, his sons Hamza and Suleman and other family members frozen in connection with an investigation against them in the income-beyond-means and money laundering case.

NAB action follows a report in a British newspaper alleging that Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif during his tenure as Punjab chief minister had embezzled the UK grant meant for relief activities after the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. Mr Sharif has denied the allegations.

Read: Shehbaz to file suit against The Mail, PM Imran for ‘fabricated and misleading story’

The NAB Lahore on Wednesday wrote to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), director general of the excise and taxation department, Model Town Housing Society secretary, Judicial Employees Cooperative Housing Society secretary and Galliat Development Authority director general, informing them that the competent authority had taken cognizance of offence(s) committed by Mr Sharif, his sons and others in assets disproportionate to their known sources of income and money laundering case and, therefore, their moveable and immovable properties should be frozen with immediate effect.

NAB asked the SECP to mark caution upon the transfer of shareholdings of Ramzan Sugar Mills, European-Asian Trading Corporation (Pvt) Ltd, Madina Trading (Pvt) Ltd, Sharif Mills (Pvt) Ltd, Madina Construction Company (Pvt) Ltd, Sharif Poultry Farms (Pvt) Ltd and Sharif Daily Farms (Pvt) Ltd. The watchdog has attached properties of Hamza Shahbaz, who is in NAB custody in connection with the income-beyond-means and money laundering case, in Lahore. These include four residential plots measuring one kanal and five marlas, one kanal and four marlas, one kanal and seven marlas and one kanal and eight marlas in the Judicial Employees Cooperative Housing Society.

In a letter to the Haripur deputy commissioner, NAB said that during the course of investigation three properties in Haripur owned by Mr Shahbaz’s wife Tehmina Durrani had been identified which should be made case property with immediate effect.

NAB has also attached two residential properties of Mr Sharif which are in the name of his other wife Nusrat in Model Town (96 and 87 H-Block). Nusrat Shahbaz’s 9-kanal house in Murree’s Dounga Gali has also been attached. Four Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs owned by Mr Sharif have also been marked as case property.

During the investigation, NAB said, it had found that Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza and Suleman had accumulated assets to the tune of Rs3 billion which were disproportionate to their known sources of income. “The suspects in order to justify the acquisition of assets have mentioned foreign remittances worth Rs1.3bn,” it earlier said.

The anti-graft watchdog had alleged that most of the remittances were fictitious and the process of remittances was used for “laundering the assets” disproportionate to their known sources of income. Mr Suleman’s “key frontman” Mohammad Mushtaq received fictitious remittances of Rs600 million in his accounts on his (Suleman’s) behalf to conceal the origin of funds and subsequently transferred the amount to Mr Suleman.

Talking to Dawn, PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said: “Desperate, frustrated, incompetent and incapable Prime Minister Imran Khan and his regime have no other way to divert people’s attention away from their failures other than by victimising Shahbaz Sharif in a new way every other day.”

The former information minister added: “Freezing all properties of Shahbaz Sharif is an act of pure vengeance without any legal justification or plausible evidence.” She said that like “all other such baseless acts of political vandalism”, this too would be disproven in the court of law.

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