Nawaz Sharif planning to flee to Saudi Arabia if convicted in Panama Papers scam, says report

Embattled former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif is planning to flee to Saudi Arabia if he is convicted by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Panama Papers scandal, CNN-News18 reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, Sharif recently met the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad bin Salman, who also sent a plane to fetch the PML-N chief.

During the meeting, the two leaders were reported to have discussed a national reconciliation ordinance to help Nawaz and his family leave Pakistan in case the NAB gives an unfavourable verdict.

On 8 November, 2017, the NAB court indicted Nawaz in three separate graft cases stemming from the Panama Papers leaks, after rejecting his plea for clubbing together those cases.

Along with Nawaz, his family members, daughter Maryam and her husband Muhammad Safdar were also indicted by the NAB.

If Nawaz is convicted by the anti-corruption court, he faces a possible life sentence.

According to CNN-News18, the Pakistan Army, the most powerful institution in the country, is reportedly comfortable with Nawaz's brother Shahbaz Sharif. In case PML-N wins the 2018 parliamentary elections, the army may back Shahbaz to take over as prime minister, the report added.

Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif. AP

Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif. AP

Pakistan's Supreme Court on 28 July ordered Nawaz to step down and ruled that graft cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama Papers scandal.

This was the third time the 67-year-old veteran politician's term as prime minister was cut short.

The prime minister was disqualified from holding the post as the judges ruled that he was dishonest to Parliament and the courts and could not be deemed fit for his office.

"He is disqualified as a member of the parliament so he has ceased to be holding the office of prime minister", Justice Khan said. The court ordered Election Commission to issue a notification for Sharif's disqualification.

The court also ordered the National Accountability Court to start a corruption case against Sharif, his children — Hussain and Hassan — and Maryam.

The Supreme Court ordered that the cases against them be registered within six weeks and trial be completed within six months.

The scandal is about alleged money laundering by Sharif family in 1990s, when Nawaz twice served as prime minister, to purchase assets in London. The assets surfaced when Panama Papers leak last year revealed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by his children. The assets also include four expensive flats in London.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jan 10, 2018 14:53:06 IST

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