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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Nawaz Shariff returns to Pak - to face money laundering charges

A couple of years after partition, in Dec 25, 1949 in Lahore,  was born Nawaz Sharif, the eldest son of  Muhammad Sharif,  a wealthy industrialist whose family had been in business even before.          They ventured into flourishing steel business too !

He is no longer in fame .. Pakistan's ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday returned to the country from the UK after nearly a month to face corruption and money laundering charges in the Panama Papers scandal. He was in London from 31 August to be with his ailing wife Kulsoom who is undergoing treatment for throat cancer. Sharif, 67, decided to return after consultations with senior party leaders including his younger brother and Punjab province Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in London, party officials said. The aircraft carrying him landed in Pak ound 7.30 am and a confident Sharif came out, waved to his supporters and left, TV news reports showed.

Back home, Kerala-based "radical" outfit PFI, Popular Front Of India, has been booked under criminal charges of money laundering by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for its alleged links with terror activities and funding, officials said today. The move came  days after BJP President Amit Shah had said that if the party forms government in Karnataka, it would recommend a ban against the outfit which allegedly also operates in some parts of the poll-bound state. The central probe agency has filed a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), based on a 2013 FIR of the NIA and a subsequent chargesheet. Officials said the agency will look into the alleged role of the "radical" outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) with respect to suspected terror funding and possible creation of assets by using "tainted" funds.

The anti-terror probe organisation, National Investigation Agency (NIA), had submitted a report on the PFI to the Union Home Ministry a few months back claiming that the group has been involved in terror activities, including running terror camps and making bombs, and it was a fit case to be banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The cases which the NIA cited to claim PFI's alleged involvement in terror acts are: chopping of a professors palm in Kerala's Idukki district, organising a training camp in Kannur from where the NIA allegedly seized swords, country- made bombs and ingredients for making IEDs, murder of RSS leader Rudresh in Bengaluru and the plans to carry out terror attacks in South India by involving another outfit, Islamic State Al-Hindi. The NIA had filed its case against the PFI in 2013, after taking it from the state police, for allegedly organising a terror camp in Kannur in that year.  It had also filed a chargesheet against 22 accused in the case relating to alleged seizure of weapons from an arms training centre of the PFI in Kerala.

Money laundering is the generic term used to describe the process by which criminals disguise the original ownership and control of the proceeds of criminal conduct by making such proceeds appear to have derived from a legitimate source. The processes by which criminally derived property may be laundered are extensive. Though criminal money may be successfully laundered without the assistance of the financial sector, the reality is that hundreds of billions of dollars of criminally derived money is laundered through financial institutions, annually.

In Pak, where Nawaz Sharif is facing charges is to  appear before the accountability court.  The Accountability Court in Islamabad, which is hearing the corruption cases against the Sharif family, last week summoned Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law capt (retd) Safdar to appear before it on 26 September.  Sharif stepped down after the Supreme Court disqualified him on 28 July from continuing in his office for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed three cases of corruption and money laundering against Sharif, his sons—Hassan and Hussain, daughter—Maryam, son-in-law—Safdar, and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the Accountability Court in Islamabad and Rawalpindi recently.

The anti-graft body recently  froze the bank accounts and seized properties of Sharif and his family members to put pressure on them to appear before the court. Earlier, Sharif skipped a court hearing last week to defy the cases. His family has alleged that the cases are politically motivated.  Shariff however claims that he has returned  to face cases for the sake of his people. The reality is that the  National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has ordered an inquiry against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and others for allegedly laundering $4.9 billion to India. According to the media report, this incident is mentioned in the World Bank’s Migration and Remittance Book 2016. The statement claims that the amount was laundered to the Indian finance ministry after which Indian foreign exchange reserves witnessed an increase and Pakistan suffered as a result.

Nawaz is not only undergoing three corruption cases at the accountability court in light of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case, but a NAB inquiry is also under way against him for alleged illegal expansion of a road leading to his estate in Lahore’s Jati Umra locality.  In a press release issued on September 21, 2016, the State Bank of Pakistan had rejected the estimates of $4.9 billion remittances from Pakistan to India. “The methodology used to estimate these numbers was reportedly  based on a World Bank’s Working Paper by Ratha, Dilip, and William Shaw ( South-South migration and remittances. No. 102. World Bank Publications, 2007).

What repercussions that can have on India remains to be seen !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th May 2018.
PS : the woman in pic is : Maryam Nawaz Sharif a Pakistani politician,  daughter of three-time Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif and the three-time First Lady of Pakistan Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif.

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