LHC summons PM’s relative to explain ‘opposition’ to Ittefaq auction

LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Monday sought personal appearance of Mian Aslam Bashir, a relative of PrimeMinister Nawaz Sharif, to explain on May 9 reasons for opposing the sale of four units of Ittefaq Group to satisfy bank loans obtained by the family from 1982 to 1998.
The chief justice issued these directions while hearing several petitions about auction of the Ittefaq Foundry’s subsidiaries namely Ittefaq Brothers and Brothers Steel Mills to adjust billions of rupees unpaid loans.
Earlier, Ashtar Ausaf Ali, the counsel for the Sharif family, said that five out of seven shareholder families of the Ittefaq Foundry, including that of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had given consent to the auction. 
He said that the sixth family was yet to come while the seventh family headed by Mian Aslam Bashir had objected to the sale.
The chief justice also directed Al-Rehmat Group, the buyer of the Ittefaq Group’s assets, to submit schedule of payment till next date of hearing.
The committee formed for the sale of these units in its report stated that one of its members, Chartered Accountant Khawaja Abdul Qadeer, had disappeared after misappropriating Rs 40 million. 
The chief justice directed the committee to verify record of Khawaja Qadeer from NADRA and produce him before the court.
A consortium of eight banks had sanctioned a collective loan of Rs 3.11 billion to the Ittefaq Group between 1982 and 1998. In most of the cases, the loan was not paid off and the banks added mark-up charges to the principal amount.
A single bench had accepted a petition of the banks to order auction of the Ittefaq Foundry, Brothers Steel Mills in Kot Lakhpat, Ittefaq Brothers in Shahdara and Ilyas Enterprises on Bund Road, Lahore. These units were surrendered by the Nawaz Sharif family against their bank liabilities for adjustment of loans.
The proceedings were initiated when a consortium of banks moved the court for winding up of three units of Ittefaq Group in order to recover about Rs 3 billion loans from the family. The National Bank, Habib Bank, United Bank, Zarai Taraqiati Bank, Muslim Commercial Bank, PICIC Bank, First Punjab Mudarba and the Corporate Law Authority had moved the petition in 1998.
The petitioners had requested the court to order recovery of their loans through auction of different units as the recipients had failed to fulfil their financial commitments made against loans given to them.

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