ISLAMABAD - A team of the National Accountability Bureau has left for the United Kingdom to collect evidence related to Avenfield properties belonging to ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, The Nation has reliably learnt.

A two-member NAB team left for London on Sunday, sources said adding that visas to the NAB team were issued in the third week of November.

The NAB sources confirmed to The Nation that two investigation officers — Sultan Nazir and Imran Dogar — have left to the UK for investigating the Avenfield case. The sources said the NAB had also informed the UK anti-corruption agency about the bureau team’s visit and has sought help in investigating the properties held by the Sharif family in the UK.

During the visit, the NAB team will also record statements of some important witnesses and collect the evidence against the Sharif family regarding the Avenfield corruption reference. The NAB team will also contact the main accused of Avenfield properties, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, to record their statements during its stay, the sources claimed.

On the other hand, the disqualified prime minister and his daughter Maryam Nawaz did not appear before the accountability court Islamabad on Monday and reportedly they have decided to stay in London till the next hearing.

The sources mentioned that the NAB team’s visit to the UK could be one of the reasons for prolonging the stay by the former premier and his daughter in London. 

On October 9, Maryam Nawaz said that her brothers will themselves decide whether or not to appear before the accountability court in three references filed against them by the NAB. She had added that “they are living abroad and Pakistani laws do not apply to them”.

The sources said that it was the first NAB investigation team, which has landed in the UK for probing the corruption case against the Sharifs.

Earlier, the NAB had written letters to the UK authorities under the mutual legal agreement seeking details of the Sharif family’s Avenfield flats 16, 16-A, 17, 17-A, Avenfield House, Park Lane, London etc.

The anti-graft body has filed four corruption references against the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar related to their Avenfield properties, Azizia Steel Mills, Hill Metal Company and other companies that include Flagship Investments, Hartstone properties, Que Holdings, Quint Eaton Place 2, Quint Saloane, Quaint, Flagship Securities, Quint Gloucester Place, Quint Paddington, Flagship Developments, Alanna Services (BVI), Lankin SA (BVI), Chadron, Ansbacher, Coomber and Capital FZE, Dubai.

The NAB Lahore had recommended placing the names of Sharif’s sons Hasan and Hussain Nawaz on the exit control list and it had sent a letter to its headquarters. It had requested that both Hassan and Hussain Nawaz were absconders in the Avenfield properties case, therefore, their names should be put on the ECL.

NAB spokesperson Asim Ali Nawazish said that visas had been issued to the NAB team and the bureau was coordinating with relevant persons in the UK related to the case. He, however, claimed that no NAB team has left for the UK to probe the case of Sharif. 

On the other hand, NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal has suspended Acting Deputy Director NAB Karachi Sarvesh Shaikh for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs10 million from accused Sikander Ali Abro in a case. The NAB chief has also ordered an inquiry against the officer and a team has reached Karachi for a probe in this regard.