Court notes contradictions in PM statements

Panama leaks case | Questions money trail, asks PTI to establish acquiring of London flats before 2006

ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court yesterday questioned the money trail of the Sharif’s London flats and asked the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to establish that the flats were in possession of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s sons before 2006.

As a five-member bench resumed hearing of the case, Justice Ijaz-ul-Hassan said there was contradiction between the speeches made by the prime minister and the supplementary answer he had submitted in the court. He further said the two speeches he made on Panama leaks subject were also in contradiction with each other.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, is hearing PTI, Jamaat-e-Islami and Tariq Asad petitions for investigating the allegations levelled against PM in Panama leaks for having offshore companies through ill-gotten money.

Veteran lawyer Naeem Bukhari, who has replaced Hamid Khan as PTI’s lead counsel, started off on a lighter note and told Justice Azmat Saeed, “It seems like today you will get angry at me.” To which Justice Azmat replied, “Do not flatter me, rather please concentrate on presenting your case.”

During the hearing, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said if the PTI was able to prove with some material that the London properties were in the name of Sharif family before 2006 then onus would be on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his children to prove their innocence.

Otherwise, he said, the PTI claim would be considered mere based on newspaper clippings. The bench also advised the PTI counsel Naeem Bukhari not to rely on newspaper cuttings.

The PTI’s claim is that Flats Numbered 16, 16a, 17 and 17a, Avenfield House, Park Lane, London were purchased by Sharif family in 1993 and 1996. However, the PM and his children deny it and their stance is that those were acquired in 2006.

Justice Azmat Saeed said to Naeem Bukhari, “If we accept your stance that the court admit whatever had been published in the newspapers then we would also have to accept many things published against your client (Imran Khan) in the last 30 years.”

At that moment PTI chairman stopped Bukhari from relying on the newspaper cuttings and presenting them as evidence.

However, Justice Khosa said the statements of the respondents and interview of Hassan Nawaz in BBC Hard Talk with Tim Sebastian may be relevant.

Naeem Bukhari raised questions relating to the letter recently sent from Qatar as well as the money used to buy London flats, owned by Prime Minister’s sons – Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz.

He contended that the PM in his speeches mentioned that the flats were purchased from the sale of Gulf Steel Mills in Jeddah. He argued that the steel mill was established in 1974 and until 1978 there was no detail about it available.

The respondents, PM and his children did not provide evidence how the money was transferred to London for buying Mayfair Flats, he added.

“There is no money trail and bank transactions regarding it,” Bukhari said, and added the prime minister also did not mention the Qatari letter in his speeches, but now it (letter) claimed that London flat were purchased with the money earned by investment in Al-Thani Company, Qatar.”

Justice Aijaz ul Hasan said that according to documents submitted by the PM’s children, they invested 12 million Dirhams with the Qatar royal family. “How were the 12 million dirhams transferred to Qatar?” wondered the judge.

The counsel argued that the Gulf Steel Mills (GSM) was setup in 1974 after borrowing money from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). The total liability of the mill on the date of Share Sale Contract (1978) was 36,023,899 Dirhams. Abdallah Kaid Ahli, buyer of the GSM, paid total consideration for 75 percent share of the mill - 21,375,000 Dirhams.

On April 14, 1980 a tripartite agreement was signed between Abdallah Kaid Ahli (buyer) Tariq Shafi (seller) and BCCI on April 14, 1980 for buying and selling of the remaining 25 per cent shares of the steel mill, he said.

Tariq Shafi, who was the representative of Mian Sharif, under the agreement after making the final settlement, received net consideration 12,000,000 Dirhams. The balance liability of Tariq Shafi to BCCI after payment of 75 percent by buyer (Ahli) was 14,648,899.91 Dirhams, he went to say.

Bukhari also raised objection on the letter from the Qatari prince. He said according to it Mian Muhammad Sharif, father of Nawaz Sharif, started real estate business in Qatar with Al-Thani Company. And, with the settlement of the company London flats were purchased.

Bukhari pointed out that there were no documents of investment settlement with Al-Thani Company, adding the letter contradicted the earlier statements of the prime minister.

The counsel said the PM had said that they had submitted all the documents in the court. Upon that Justice Azmat Saeed said the documents might be available everywhere but they have not been submitted in the court.

Bukhari alleged that there was no document or the bank transaction how money was transferred from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia or from Dubai to Qatar or Qatar to London. He said if the money was in their hand prior to 2003 then the wealth tax was payable.

The PTI counsel argued after making speeches on April 5 and May 16 the prime minister was not truthful to the people of Pakistan, adding these were categorically false regarding source for funds to purchase London flats.

Bukhari stated that besides their reply, PM’s children also filed a civil miscellaneous application (CMA), in which they mentioned a company Minerva Holdings. The court noticed there are no documents available related to it.

The PTI alleged that Nielsen and Nescoll, the companies were registered by Minerva Trust and Corporate Services Ltd.

Bukhari contended that it was the position of Maryam Nawaz that she was and remained dependent on the PM. But according to the letter of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, he said, Maryam had beneficial interest in the offshore companies – Nielsen and Nescol.

The court questioned that when respondents’ statements were that Maryam was a trustee in the companies then why in 2012 those companies had declared that she had beneficial interest in those companies.

The PTI counsel contended that the trust deed, submitted by respondent, was unstamped and unregistered.

He alleged that PM had evaded taxes which were due to him and this would be established by the tax returns. He received remittances from his son who had no tax number. It was not a gift under Section 39 of Income Tax Ordinance.

Bukhari also argued that NAB chairman and the bureau had failed to perform their duty and had been protecting the prime minister and his family. They did not follow the money trail, he said.

The NAB chairman should be proceeded against under Article 209 of Constitution for dereliction of duty and gross negligence, he demanded.

Naeem Bukhari also mentioned money laundering case against Ishaq Dar.

However, Justice Sheikh Azmat told him that the Accountability Court had decided the case in Ishaq Dar’s favour and asked why the NAB authorities did not challenge that order.

The case was adjourned until Monday.



SC notes contradictions in PM statements

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