Court hears Avenfield reference against former PM Nawaz, family

ISLAMABAD: Wajid Zia, the Federal Investigation Agency additional director who headed the Panama case joint investigation team (JIT) which probed the Sharif family’s assets last year, was cross-examined for the ninth time today in the Avenfield properties reference.

The reference is among three filed against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) last year on the Supreme Court’s directives.

Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir, who has been conducting corruption proceedings against the Sharif family since September last year, resumed hearing the case today.

Nawaz arrived at the court along with his daughter Maryam and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar.

Nawaz’s counsel, Khawaja Haris, has been cross-examining Zia after he recorded his statement over six hearings earlier.

As the hearing went under way, Haris and the NAB prosecutor resumed their regular cross-questioning of each other.

The NAB prosecutor argued that Haris is attempting to delay the case unnecessarily by going in circles during his questioning of Zia.

He claimed that Nawaz’s Iqama [foreign work permit] and salary have been accepted but still the defence claims that the former premier did not take any salary.

Haris responded that the matter is debatable and they can argue over it endlessly.

Later, Nawaz and Maryam were allowed to leave the court and the hearing was adjourned for a brief period.

As the hearing resumed, Zia informed the court that the JIT did not probe the matter of the UAE government’s wage protection system, wherein it is, as per Haris, necessary to pay salaries via banks to all employees registered with a UAE company [Capital FZE].

The hearing was later adjourned until tomorrow.

The cases

The trial against the Sharif family had commenced on September 14, 2017.

NAB to file three supplementary references against Nawaz

The corruption references, filed against the Sharifs, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London.

Nawaz and sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Safdar are accused in the Avenfield reference only.

The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.