The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has ordered the immediate sale of properties belonging to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and has issued a letter to the concerned deputy commissioners in this regard.
In the letter, Director-General of NAB’s Lahore office, Shahzad Saleem, stated that for the first time in the country’s history, the decision to recover fines from a former prime minister has been implemented.
The country’s accountability watchdog maintained that it had initiated proceedings to recover an £8 million fine — equivalent to Rs1.85 billion — from Nawaz in the Avenfield apartments case. Aside from the imposition of fines, in July 2018, an accountability court had sentenced Nawaz to ten years of imprisonment.
In the letter, the deputy commissioners have been apprised of all the details of Nawaz Sharif’s saleable properties, including bungalows situated at Lahore’s Upper Mall Road and agricultural lands in Sheikhupura and other areas.
The proceeds from the sale of properties would be used for the development of the country, the letter said, adding that if the full amount of the fine is not recovered, a search for further assets of the convict will be carried out.
In 2016, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released leaked documents of Mossack Fonseca, a private law firm based in Panama, which disclosed details of offshore companies incorporated under the laws of the British Virgin Islands.
Per the documents, Nawaz Sharif owned two offshore companies, namely, Nescoll Limited and Nielson Enterprises Limited. These companies bought apartments no. 16, 16 A, 17 and 17 A, in Avenfield House, Park Lane, London, in 1993, 1995, and 1996.
NAB claims that the apartments were purchased by Nawaz and his children through “corrupt, dishonest or illegal means” because in 1993 Sharif’s children had no source of income.
“The father is a natural guardian of his children, thus the stance taken by the accused [Sharif] that the children were dependents of their grandfather could not be substantiated,” the Bureau was quoted as saying in an IHC judgement.
NAB had also accused Maryam Nawaz Sharif of producing bogus trust deeds, dated 2006, which were also signed by her husband retired Captain Safdar as a witness. As a result, an accountability court convicted Sharif to 10 years in jail, Maryam to seven, and Captain Safdar to one year in jail.
Later, a judgment by the Islamabad High Court, written by Justice Athar Minallah, suspended the sentences of all three accused.