Judge Accountability Court- II, Islamabad: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Muhammad Arshad Malik, J. sentenced former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to a jail term of seven years on charges of corruption.
The present case pertains to allegation of money laundering against Sharif during his tenure as Prime Minister in the 1990s when he purchased assets in London. The assets surfaced in the 2016 Panama Papers leaks showing Sharif and his children as owners of offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands. Acting upon it, the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Sharif and directed National Accountability Bureau (NAB) – the anti-corruption agency of Pakistan – to investigate the said matter. Subsequently, the NAB authorized the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to launch three cases – Al-Azizia steel mills case, Flagship Securities Ltd. investment case and Avenfield apartments’ case – against the Sharif family. While Sharif was sentenced to 11 years jail earlier this year in the Avenfield properties case, the verdict had been reserved in the other two cases.
The Court noted JIT’s finding that despite having no independent source of income, Sharif and his co-accused sons had assets disproportionate to their income. There was no documentary evidence or banking record to show that the assets acquired or the pecuniary transactions made by accused were legal and valid. Neither they declared assets held by them abroad nor did they claim that they had remitted any amount from Pakistan to abroad in a lawful manner for the acquisition of the said assets.
After perusing all the documents on record, Sharif was found guilty of corruption and corrupt practices under Section 9(a)(v) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 (NAO) and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term of seven years along with a fine of Rs. 1.5 billion and USD 25 million.
It was directed that Sharif shall forthwith cease to hold public office, if any, held by him and shall stand disqualified from contesting election for any public body/ statutory/ local authority in Pakistan for a period of ten years from the date of his release.
The Court also directed perpetual non-bailable arrest warrants to be issued against Sharif’s absconding co-accused sons Hassan Nawaz Sharif and Hussain Nawaz Sharif, and declared them as proclaimed offenders.[State v. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Reference No. 19 of 2017, decided on 20-12-2018]