ISLAMABAD (Roze News) – Supreme Court (SC) on Friday reserved verdict in Panama Papers implementation case, probing money laundering charges against Sharif family after hearing arguments of both parties.
A three-member SC bench comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan resumed the hearing of Panamagate during which Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif’s children lawyer Salman Akram Raja completed his arguments whereas Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar’s counsel and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) representative Naeem Bokhari also put forward their stances.
During the proceeding, Justice Azmat Saeed said we will mull over the disqualification of PM Nawaz Sharif, adding that the court has clearly analyzed everything and that we want transparency in every issue. The court remarked that Ishaq Dar failed to satisfy court over his assets however, an investigation against him can be launched.
The bench further said they will announce the date for the final hearing later.
SC opens Volume 10 of JIT report
SC opened volume 10 of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report bearing title ‘Mutual Legal Assistance Requests- Ongoing’ that was kept confidential. The content was presented for the arguments over repeated requests from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) whereas Justice Azmat assured to not publicize it to anyone before showing it to PM Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Harris.
Salman Akram Raja presented list of lawyers available in Britain over which Justice Ijaz asked whether it also contains name of the notary counsel but the lawyer said ‘no.’
Attorney General of British Virgin Island wrote letter on June 16 which was replied by JIT on June 23, he added.
Salman Akram reiterated that the investigation is incomplete due to insufficient record, therefore, more probe is required. Justice Ijaz responded trial court decides about the acceptance or rejection of the report.
The lawyer said that Qatari prince was not asked to record statement on a video link, adding that Hassan and Hussain’s investments were carried out by their grandfather till 2004.
He said that finger cannot be raised on Nawaz Sharif for having assets more than earnings on which Justice Ejaz asked would it be right if public office holder possesses assets more than his income.
Arguments of Tariq Hassan
Ishaq Dar lawyer Tariq Hassan submitted his client’s tax record for 34 years in SC after which Justice Ijaz remarked you have brought such a big box, it will be under discussion on television channels for the remaining day whereas Justice Azmat asked the counsel that are you following Joint Investigation Team (JIT).
Justice Ejaz said that it may lead to investigation against the finance minister, adding Ishaq Dar was involved in Huddaibiya Paper Mill and that he failed to satisfy JIT over which Tariq Hassan said that record was there but JIT did not consider it.
Justice Ijaz said that Dar’s assets have increased from 9 billion to 837 million in five years and asked about the pay of Dar as Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak’s advisor. It is illogical to say that Sheikh gave Dar 80 crore in this time period, he added.
Justice Ijaz questioned under what circumstances Ishaq Dar got contract over which Tariq Hassan gave an example, saying he earns Rs 2 lac as a lawyer.
On the behalf of Ishaq Dar, additional documents, along with letters from NAB and FIA were submitted in SC. Documents also included dispatches from Dubai’s Sheikh, bank returns and written answer to court’s observations.
The federal minister’s reply stated that his overseas income was merged with local assets, and that he neither gave any amount of money to Hill Metal Company nor received any.
Arguments of Naeem Bokhari
Presenting arguments in the court, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawyer Naeem Bokhari reiterated that PM is no more ‘Sadiq and Amin’ as he concealed assets including FZE company. He alleged the premier also didn’t show his income.
Justice Ejaz remarked it can be possible that PM didn’t take pay despite being eligible over which the lawyer said that salary receiving receipt is present among the submitted record.
Justice Ejaz further asked to tell that this matter comes under court jurisdiction or Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will handle.
Also Read: Panama JIT report: PTI lawyer presents arguments in SC
Naeem Bokhari said that Nawaz Sharif lied over selling Gulf Steel Mills for 33 million dirham while Azizia Mill was not sold on 63 million riyal, adding that PM was getting gifts from Hill Metal and Hussain Nawaz. It is unbelievable that Nawaz Sharif earned 88 percent profit and he also received money from US ‘Sheikh sahab’.
Justice Ijaz asked from Attorney General to guide about any law that doesn’t allow a public office holder, especially PM, to get employed over which AG said the premier is not bound to follow any rule in this regard.
SC’s April 20 decision
On April 20, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had announced Panama Leaks case decision comprising 540 pages, saying that the court issued a split ruling calling for a JIT. Two of the five judges went further, branding Sharif “dishonest” and saying he should be disqualified, but they were outnumbered.
The court formed six-member inquiry team that included Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Additional Director General Wajid Zia, Military Intelligence’s Brig Kamran Khurshid, National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) Director Irfan Naeem Mangi, State Bank of Pakistan’s Amer Aziz, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan’s (SECP) Executive Director Bilal Rasool and Inter-Services Intelligence’s Brig Muhammad Nauman Saeed.
The JIT members during the seven-week period interrogated eight members of Sharif family including Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif, his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif, sons Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, daughter Maryam Nawaz, son-in-law Captain Safdar, cousin Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and brother-in-law Ishaq Dar and submitted its report on July 10.
What are Panama Papers?
Panama Papers had published a leak of documents belonging to Mossack Fonseca, a law firm in April 2016 creating uproar in Pakistan among other countries. The leak was studied by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and stated names of incumbent as well as former leaders of the world who owned shell companies.
Opposition parties in Pakistan saw offshore companies owned by daughter and two sons of PM Nawaz as means to either stash wealth in foreign accounts or purchase assets abroad.
The top court took up the case in October last year on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami Muslim League and Jamaat-e-Islami.
Imran Khan, the opposition leader who pushed the hardest for Sharif to be investigated, said the premier would end up in jail, and vowed protests if he was not ousted by the court.
“Either we will celebrate in Islamabad or otherwise we will hit the streets to save our democracy and to make sure we send this mafia to Adiyala jail,” Khan told supporters.