A loan of Rs3 billion against the Sharif brothers remains outstanding despite a lapse of about ten years when the physical assets of four industrial units Ittefaq Foundries, Brothers Steel, Ittefaq Brothers and Ilyas Enterprises were surrendered to nine lending banks, who haven’t got a penny back since 1998.The Sharif brothers were lauded in the national press in 1998 for surrendering their physical assets to nine banks but in actual terms, these banks did not get a single penny back after one of their (Sharif’s) own directors moved the court and got a stay order against selling of these assets. The stay order in favour of Ittefaq Brothers remains effective till date.

Meanwhile, the representatives and legal experts of these nine banks are said to have recently met at Lahore to decide a new course of action to recover the loans from the Sharif brothers who have been shown as “defaulters” of the banks. The National Bank of Pakistan is the worst affected bank with a stuck up loan of Rs1.5 billion. Earlier, in his capacity as Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif in a highly charged televised address to the nation, had announced to surrender all the physical assets of Itefaq Foundries, Brothers Steels, Ittefaq Brothers and Ilyas Enterprises to the nine banks, whom the Sharifs reportedly owed Rs3.09billion.

The process of selling the Ittefaq Foundries was stopped when one of the relatives of Sharif Brothers moved an application in the Lahore High Court in 2005 and the matter is still pending with the courts without any payment to the concerned banks. According to official documents available with The News, in 1998, the directors of Ittefaq Group offered to surrender these units to settle the claims of all the banks instead of making cash payments to settle their accounts. Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister had then announced to hand over these assets to the Lahore High Court to monitor the sale of assets of his units.

The names of directors of Ittefaq Foundries are Mian Tariq Shafi, Mian Javed Shafi, Mian Abbas Shafi, Mian Riaz Miraj, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Mian Yousuf Aziz and Mian Nawaz Sharif. Likewise, the directors of Brothers Steels included Mian Yousuf Aziz, Mian Yahya Siraj, Mrs Nusrat Shahbaz, Mian Naseem Tariq, Mian Memoona Idris, and Hussain Barkat. The directors of Ittefaq Brothers were Mian SHahbaz Sharif, Mian Mohamamd Idris and Mian Pervaiz Shafi. According to the official papers, Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif owed bank loan of Rs1.5billion to National Bank of Pakistan, HBL Rs717million, UBL Rs340million, MCB Rs239million, Ist Punjab Mudraba Rs110millino, Bank of Punjab Rs61million, ADBP Rs58million, PICIC Rs17million and ICP Rs8million.

The papers reveal that when the assets of these four defaulting units were surrendered to the LHC, in a bid to settle their claims all the banks unanimously agreed to get the court order to this deal.The documents showed that while hearing this application under section 284, the Lahore High Court ordered to constitute a committee comprising 3 members, a representative of banks, a chartered accountant and an advocate being the court representative. The mandate of the committee was to take the possession of the said units of the Ittefaq Group, to protect and preserve their assets and to auction them through court procedure.

Under the said committee a bid of Rs2.48billion was received which was about half a billion rupees less than the actual loan money. The bid was submitted to the court in 2005. However, the final court order for auction has not been yet issued till today following the petition filed by some of directors of the Ittefaq Group. In 2006, committee member Iqbal Haider Rehman after his appointment as additional judge Lahore High Court was replaced by Pervaiz Akthar Malik, advocate and Kamran Amin NBP, due to change of his assignment in the banks, was replaced by Mr Salaim Ansar. Now this committee comprised Salim Ansar, Khajwa Abdul Qadir and Pervaiz Akhtar Malik.

The official papers show that since filing of the bid of Rs2.48billion with the court in 2005, duly accepted by all the banks and recommended by the committee, the matter was still stuck up at the Lahore High Court for an order and despite all efforts of the committee, no progress has been made. The documents show that several meetings of the creditor banks had been convened by NBP at Lahore where the legal experts other than the dealing councils of the banks were also invited to consider the alternative course of action to expedite this matter. However, legal complications have arisen to such an extent that no concrete solution of the problem could so far be unanimously adopted.

Talking to The News, president NBP Ali Raza confirmed that a sum of Rs1.5billion was outstanding against the Sharif brothers as the loan was yet to be settled. He said the physical assets were surrendered by the directors of these units but the court had yet to give its approval to the bidding price of Rs2.4billion obtained in 2005. Talking to The News, PML-N spokesman MNA Ahsan Iqbal said that there was an understanding with the banks in 1998 and the physical assets were handed over to them as part of “settlement”. He said actually the Sharif brothers never got their loans written off and the matter was declared “technical default” after the banks were put under pressure during the second government of PPP to seek the payment of loans prematurely. He said this was a sort of “technical default” and the cases later landed in the court.

Source: The News