Maryam Nawaz was also given 7 years in jail for abetment
The former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif has been given a 10-year jail term following corruption charges for owning assets beyond his known income.
The verdict was delivered by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court in Islamabad on Friday 6th July 2018, following a series of delays.
In addition to the jail term, Judge Mohammad Bashir ordered Sharif to pay a £8 million fine.
As well as the ex-PM’s jail term, Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz was also given 7 years in jail for abetment and a £2 million fine.
Their sentences relate to a number of luxury properties owned by the political leader in the UK.
Known as the ‘Avenfield Reference’, the case was opened following the Panama Paper leaks, which incriminated a number of high-profile dignitaries regarding corruption and offshore finances.
Notably, a number of Bollywood celebrities were also caught in the scandal.
In April 2016, it was discovered that a three of Sharif’s children, Maryam, Hasan and Hussain, had links to offshore companies. These were used to move money and buy foreign assets.
Of these assets included four luxury apartments bought by the family at Avenfield House, in London Park Lane.
At the time, Sharif told GEO TV:
“Those apartments are ours and those offshore companies are also ours… There is nothing wrong with it and I have never concealed them.”
“We fully follow all rules and regulations in doing any business.”
The beneficial owner of these flats was Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz. Following a further enquiry, Maryam produced a trust deed which stated that her brother was the beneficial owner instead, while she was only a trustee.
However, a British forensic expert noted that the document had been typed in a Calibri font which was not commercially available until 2007. This was much later than the document that was signed and dated for February 2006.
It was alleged that the deed had may have been ‘falsified’, which is a ‘criminal offence’.
The family have continued to insist that these properties were bought through legitimate means. However, they have allegedly been unable to disclose the source of the funds used to purchase them.
In addition to their jail terms, both father and daughter were given one year in jail for ‘not cooperating with the NAB’. This will be served concurrently with their other sentences.
Sharif’s son-in-law, Captain Safdar has also been given one year in jail for ‘non-cooperation’ with the Bureau.
None of the family was present to witness Judge Mohammad Bashir in Pakistan deliver the court’s verdict. The family are currently in London, where Sharif’s wife Kulsoom Nawaz is receiving medical treatment for cancer.
Maryam Nawaz took to Twitter soon after the sentencing, writing in Urdu:
“This is a very small punishment for firmly standing in front of unseen forces. The morale to fight against oppression has increased today.”
In April 2018, Nawaz Sharif was barred from participating in political elections for life.
It is thought that the four London properties will be confiscated by the federal government. While the £8 million and £2 million fines will go to the state treasury.
The news is sure to have a negative impact on Nawaz Sharif’s political party, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) ahead of Pakistan’s general elections.
Due to take place on 25th July 2018, Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif, will be running in his stead.