As unconfirmed reports swirled about the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) having rejected a recommendation to freeze the accounts of the Sharif family and bar them from leaving the country, it can be confirmed that a decision on filing references against them will be taken this week.
NAB must decide on filing references against former premier Nawaz Sharif, his sons Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar before September 8 if it is to abide by the Supreme Court’s six-week deadline in the July 28 Panama Papers case judgment.
Sources in NAB said the references will be filed only after the prosecution wing has thoroughly scrutinised the recommendations of the Lahore and Rawalpindi Combined Investigation Team.
The four references – two each prepared in Lahore and Rawalpindi – were forwarded to the NAB Executive Board on Friday, a day before Eidul Azha. The references were sent to NAB Headquarters for approval with detailed investigative reports and supporting documents regarding the subjects of the investigations.
Sources also said that since the reports appear to be in order, the references are ready to be filed. Another source also stated that it was likely that NAB’s chief will head a board meeting on Wednesday and formally announce the filing of references against the family.
After getting approval to file the references from the NAB chairman, the watchdog would submit them in accountability courts by the end of this month.
When asked about placing the names of Sharif family members on the Exit Control List (ECL), the sources said that decision was up to the courts.
A five-member bench of Supreme Court on July 28 disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding public office.
As part of the decision, Justice Ijazul Ahsan was appointed as a supervisory judge by the apex court. Recently, he allowed NAB to quiz members of the Joint Investigation Team which probed the Sharif family.
At least three members of the JIT – which was headed by FIA Additional Director Wajid Zia – were summoned last week by NAB Lahore to record their statements about the investigation into the Panama Papers case.
The country’s anti-graft body also summoned members of the Sharif family to appear before its investigators in Lahore in connection with the probe into the family’s flats in London on multiple occasions, but they did not show up.
ECL rumours quashed
Meanwhile, NAB Spokesman Nawazish Ali Asim on Tuesday also rejected rumours floating on various TV channels that its chief had turned down a recommendation to freeze the assets of the Sharif family and place their names on the ECL.
TV outlets on Tuesday evening started reporting that the NAB chief had dismissed the recommendations of its Lahore office, but the spokesman flatly denied this.
NAB Lahore had previously recommended freezing the assets of members of the Sharif family who are under investigation and putting their names on the ECL in the Avon Field Apartments case.