PM Nawaz's family hit back after Panama Papers leak

Published: April 4, 2016
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

The family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was defiant Monday, defending their ownership of offshore companies after they were named in the Panama Papers, one of the biggest leaks in history.

The leak, comprising 11.5 million documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, shows how some of the world’s most powerful people have secreted away their money in offshore jurisdictions.

Panama Papers: Huge tax leak exposes Putin aides, world leaders, stars

Among those named are three of Sharif’s four children — Maryam, who has been tipped to be his political successor; Hasan and Hussain, with the records showing they owned London real estate through offshore companies administrated by the firm.

“Nawaz Sharif does not own any company but having companies in the name of his children also raises questions,” Umar Cheema of the independent Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan (CIRP) told AFP.

The CIRP is partnered with the Investigative Consortium of Independent Journalists (ICIJ), which spent months poring over the documents ahead of Sunday’s online release.

Nawaz’s son owns London apartment, offshore companies

“There are more than 200 Pakistanis which our report has identified, and they include lawyers, lawmakers and some people from the judiciary,” he said.

Opposition leader Imran Khan issued a swift call for action against Sharif after the release.

“Our stance vindicated again as Sharif’s wealth stashed abroad exposed,” he tweeted, adding the country’s accountability watchdog, tax authorities and election commission “must take action”.

But Sharif’s son Hussain told a private broadcaster that his family had done “nothing wrong”.

“Those apartments are ours and those offshore companies are also ours,” he said in comments aired by the channel Monday.

“There is nothing wrong with it and I have never concealed them, nor do I need to do that.

“It is according to British law and laws of other countries that it is a legal way to avoid unnecessary tax via offshore companies.”

Tax authorities begin probes into some people named in Panama Papers leak

He left Pakistan in 1992, he added, and therefore is not resident, adding Pakistani tax law “says that if you are not staying in Pakistan for more than 138 days, then you are not required to declare your assets”.

Regarding Imran’s call for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to investigate, he said “we voluntarily present ourselves before it or any other judicial and investigative institution in Pakistan”.

And he issued one final dig at Imran, calling on him to provide “proof that the Prime Minister has not declared his assets”.

“If he is successful in that then we are ready to accept our fault and undergo punishment,” he said.

Nawaz Sharif’s office has not yet responded to requests for comment by AFP.

Ali Nadir, a financial analyst, said the use of offshore companies was in many cases legitimate.

But, he added: “I believe political and business leaders will be hard pressed to take the privacy defence given the worldwide move towards a better track of money, tax evasion, laundering and corruption.

Panama lawyer at center of data leak denounces attack on privacy

“This may also start more locally focused probes as there are likely to be disclosure issues.”

The Panama Papers have whipped a storm of controversy over off-shore wealth, ensnaring political leaders, sports figures and underworld members across the globe in a snowballing scandal.

Nawaz Sharif regularly pays his taxes and has no funds abroad: Pervaiz Rashid

Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid denied any wrongdoing on the Sharifs’ part.

“Every man has the right to do what he wants with his assets, to throw them in the sea, to sell them, or to establish a trust for them. There is no crime in this in Pakistani law or in international law,” he said.

Responding to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan’s remarks against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family’s alleged illegal assets in foreign accounts, Information Minister Pervez Rashid brushed aside “allegations without any proofs”.

“Nawaz Sharif regularly pays his taxes and has no funds abroad,” the information minister said while speaking to mediamen in Islamabad on Monday.

Rashid said Imran’s accusations have once again proven false, advising the cricketer-turned-politician to apologise for hurling false accusations against political personalities without having any proofs.

“Panama leaks did not talk about any company of Sharif family which is enough proof that all the allegations of stashing funds abroad against the family are false,” he maintained.

The minister further said that the Sharif family was forced out of the country in late 90s and were not allowed to come back to Pakistan for a long time which “compelled them to establish their business abroad.”

“Sons of Nawaz Sharif have been living abroad for a long time and they were not allowed to come to Pakistan which is why they started their business abroad.”

“Today, no one talks about the mistreatment which was meted out to the business of Sharif family during the past regimes in the country,” he lamented.

“Even Nawaz Sharif’s deadliest woes could not prove a single corruption case against him. Benazir Bhutto never hurled any accusation against Nawaz Sharif for corruption nor could Musharraf prove anything against him.”

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Reader Comments (46)

  • Shahid Amin
    Apr 4, 2016 - 1:26PM

    We Pakistanis should feel proud that atleast in one field we are still competing.Recommend

  • Saad Qureshi
    Apr 4, 2016 - 1:29PM

    There is nothing to “hit back”. Everything is in black and white. I guess, Imran Khan was right all the time. The Sharifs are anything but shareef. Recommend

  • Apr 4, 2016 - 1:34PM

    Its too good for pak people…! U don’t deserve honest leader like imran.Recommend

  • Saad
    Apr 4, 2016 - 1:46PM

    One word, shamelessness Recommend

  • Ehs
    Apr 4, 2016 - 1:58PM

    Pak politicians are a huge disappointment for the country.Recommend

  • Shakil Ahmed
    Apr 4, 2016 - 2:04PM

    Why they need off shore companies to run any business in the first place?

    its all wealth hiding and tax evasion techniques and then play angel!

    they present to authorities that are under their influence :)

    Very very Sharif indeed!Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Apr 4, 2016 - 2:34PM

    This disclosure will spearhead further leaks in the system which the capitalist world had estblished in specific countries for the fugitives who seek secrecy and /or security from sanctions and to avoid possiblee higher taxation in their countries of origin. There is nothing illegal in keeping ones assets in the country of ones choosing especially where one has no residence, the delicate question which the leaks have brought upon the ones involved is to explain their motives for keeping such accounts. There is a lot of explaining to do for the politicians involved which the public will not easily understand and therefore the fall outs.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Anon
    Apr 4, 2016 - 2:40PM

    It’s amazing that the whole world is treating this as am indicator of shady dealings, but in Pakistan it’s Imran Khan who’s being demonised for pointing it out!

    And Hussain says they will face punishment if allegations proved true? We’ve heard that one a million times now….. Still waiting for his uncle to change his name!Recommend

  • Anon
    Apr 4, 2016 - 2:43PM

    O…. And btw…. It’s not just his sons. His daughter is also mentioned…. Did she also start businesses in exile and was unable to come back?Recommend

  • Asif
    Apr 4, 2016 - 2:47PM

    I would agree with his son comments if independent audit shows the money trail …. how did they get the money, from where and how. I nor people of Pakistan will buy an argument which says that Itefaq Industries generated a profit of 1 Billion when the factories were supposedly closed.
    If they are guilty then the UK/US racketeering and other law should be applied. Recommend

  • Aqeel
    Apr 4, 2016 - 2:49PM

    Sons of Nawaz Sharif have been living
    abroad for a long time and they were
    not allowed to come to Pakistan which
    is why they started their business
    abroad.”

    What about Maryam Nawaz? Why is she in the same list then? Couldn’t you come up with a more lame excuse Pervez Rashid sahib?Recommend

  • Asif
    Apr 4, 2016 - 2:50PM

    Let see where the funding sources paper trail goes …. RAW, CIA and others? What about Saudi Arabia to protect terrorists in Southern Punjab. We want to know how they got so rich? How did they generated so much profit?Recommend

  • Expatriot
    Apr 4, 2016 - 2:51PM

    When has a thief ever owned up his thievery!!?Recommend

  • SHAH
    Apr 4, 2016 - 2:55PM

    Sure, we believe you… have done nothing wrong… just stolen wealth of my country.. what is wrong in it ?? We all can do the same … RIGHT ???? Recommend

  • Parvez
    Apr 4, 2016 - 3:19PM

    NOTHING WILL HAPPEN……because those who will investigate, those who will prosecute and will have to pass judgement ( if it comes to that ) are all sailing in the same boat. As the adage goes ‘ When all are guilty, then none are guilty ‘……..hold very, very true.Recommend

  • zubair
    Apr 4, 2016 - 3:20PM

    Chore muchaiy shore!Recommend

  • Mohammed
    Apr 4, 2016 - 3:32PM

    The stupid PK people will still vote for these crooks.Recommend

  • Ali
    Apr 4, 2016 - 3:41PM

    The fact that the Sharif’s lived in Park Lane flats during their exile tells you one thing:
    They had already stashed tens of millions of dollars out of the country well before the coup.

    I suspect the economy was going from bad to worse under their stewardship and they realized that the end was near; so they took action to look after their external interests.

    This is just what we know about from one lawyer.
    No mention of assets in Swiss accounts, Saudi or UAE.
    But they’re bound to exist.Recommend

  • NY
    Apr 4, 2016 - 3:47PM

    These shameless people will never admit they have done anything wrong. Recommend

  • Jawad U Rahman
    Apr 4, 2016 - 3:54PM

    So, no taxes if you stay away for 138 days or more. Beautiful! What an example our PM is setting for his nation!Recommend

  • Apr 4, 2016 - 3:55PM

    It is 183 days rather than 138 days, for which if you aren’t resident you are not required to pay taxes over your foreign source income.Recommend

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Apr 4, 2016 - 3:56PM

    @Anon:
    Wasn’t she the one doing her ‘PhD’ from Cambridge University in “Offshore Tax Evasion” ?Recommend

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Apr 4, 2016 - 4:02PM

    @Mohammed:
    Well, at least we have our good pal Mr 100% Zardari for Plan B !Recommend

  • Arsalan
    Apr 4, 2016 - 4:09PM

    VOTE FOR PML-N !!Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Apr 4, 2016 - 4:12PM

    The Sharifs can always get a rufuge in the tax free Gulf countries now that they are no longer welcome in the Saudi kingdom! According to David Cameron, it is legitimate for the politicians to protect their assets for the family, but they must be transparent.

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • Taimor
    Apr 4, 2016 - 4:14PM

    Only Maryam Nawaz shareef had to explain if there is any thing required by the law to explain? Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Apr 4, 2016 - 4:19PM

    Information Minister Pervez Rashid brushed aside “allegations without any proofs”.

    Is the entire Government apparatus will be used now to explain the Sharifs private enterprises? The Sharifs must stand down and call for new elections, this is what is expected in Iceland as well whose wife has offshore assets.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Babbarsher Khan
    Apr 4, 2016 - 11:04PM

    Kaptaan, tum dharana kara, hum tumhare saath hai!Recommend

  • Apr 5, 2016 - 1:35AM

    Now i understand why National Saving centers rates are decreasing day by day. Because of this Government National Saving Center now have historical low rates.Recommend

  • Anomic
    Apr 5, 2016 - 7:11AM

    @Aqeel:

    “Law is like spider’s web; fly gets caught, elephant just walks through.”
    No point in getting worked up over things which we the public has no power or say.
    Recommend

  • Anomic
    Apr 5, 2016 - 7:21AM

    @Aqeel: “What about Maryam Nawaz? Why is she in the same list then? Couldn’t you come up with a more lame excuse Pervez Rashid sahib?”
    @Anon: “O…. And btw…. It’s not just his sons. His daughter is also mentioned…. Did she also start businesses in exile and was unable to come back?”

    Yes; Ms Nawaz worked for Girl Guides and made her money from selling brownies at bake sales.
    Honest, just ask her or Her Majesty’s ministers Rana Sanaullah or Mr Parvez Rashid!
    Recommend

  • Anomic
    Apr 5, 2016 - 7:25AM

    @Arsalan: “VOTE FOR PML-N !!”

    And they will, believe you me!Recommend

  • m rafi
    Apr 5, 2016 - 12:34PM

    It is global double standard. Why the jurists not making law against off shore companies if it is facilitating tax dodging.Persons,companies and institution will definitely take benefit if law provides to do so. International law should be framed and curb those countries where such type of companies are incorporated.Recommend

  • Haroon afridi
    Apr 5, 2016 - 1:25PM

    Sharam tum ko magar nahi athi. arrey ye PMLN se nahi pakistanio se keh ra hoon. kuch mutthi bhar log tum logo ka khoon choos kar ayyashian kar rahey hain and tum log ankhen band kar ke so rahey ho. sirf aik imran khan hi tum sab ka zimma dar hay?
    doob maro sharam karoRecommend

  • Omar Sadiq
    Apr 5, 2016 - 7:47PM

    There is a video on YouTube of Information Minister Pervez Rashid being heckled/insulted at the Islamabad airport; Time is not far away Mr Rashid, when it won’t be heckling & insults hurled towards you and other politicians BUT a sound thrashing from the public. Mark my words!!!!Recommend

  • Ali
    Apr 5, 2016 - 8:48PM

    Corrupt regimes and citizen’s are at fault the most. Many of us see these posts, but we are not shocked, we knew this was happening and frankly accepted it. Please let’s make this a wide spread move not to join the corrupt but stand against them. Corruption is an accepted norm here. We all MUST HATE IT, that means no ties with people we know who are corrupt, don’t support them, speak against it at every level. Unless we absolutely hate it and act against it, the status quo will not change.Recommend

  • oats
    Apr 5, 2016 - 9:31PM

    @Rex Minor: In Iceland the leader’s and his wife had undeclared assets. Adult children of a businessman anywhere in the world would be expected to have some money. The Sharifs were successful businessmen before they entered politics and for each of his children to have business assets in the 10 million dollar range may strike you as rich but in itself is no proof of any wrong doing. In the coming weeks, details of the billions looted by Putin’s aid who are not businessman or Chinese Premier’s kids billions will prove embarrassing but Pak media has already made a judgement without any clear understanding that there is no illegality.Recommend

  • Aamir
    Apr 6, 2016 - 12:55AM

    God’s flogging has no sound.
    their time will come sooner or laterRecommend

  • Ali khan
    Apr 6, 2016 - 2:27PM

    It’s a shame that our nation is still sitting quiet.people will still defend these thieves and Iam sure Mr nawaz and his family will get away with it like they always do.for God’s Sake wake up pakistan.Recommend

  • zehra
    Apr 7, 2016 - 1:48AM

    I live in uk and i know the system how it works in this country anyone who does tax evasion and you are wealthy are consider criminal where as off shore companies are concerned they are establish for those people who can do business in uk or usa so that prosperity can flourish in uk and usa but now uk govt after the leak found out that politician are storing illegal money in which tax are not paid it is not only politician who is hoarding money in off shore company but actor ‘actress and minister and these all money they are using for personal benefit not for the business purpose. where as nawaz sharif is concerned people in the west thing he is corrupt and he come from the country where people are below the poverty line and the minister of that country is so wealthy it is sad this kind of people does not bring good image in out side world.
    in uk if any body is using money for charity purposes the their is no tax on it because money is using for needy people if imran khan has use the money for shaukat hospital and it is known in the world that charity money is going to give treatment to poorest people the their is no objection to it which i think nawaz spoke man does not understand charity or are they so naive
    nawaz sharif should understand his personal image or self respect because he represent pakistani the most corrupted country
    r Recommend

  • Masud Sato
    Apr 7, 2016 - 2:07AM

    The mills of GOD grind slow but they grind exceedingly small. Lets wait n see. yRecommend

  • jalil ahmad
    Apr 7, 2016 - 10:28AM

    i wonder can any government agency (Judiciary, NAB, FIA IB, Army) etc, has the guts to put hand on these culprits, in Pakistan, law is only for the poor ones the Sufferers,Recommend

  • irfan
    Apr 7, 2016 - 1:16PM

    why such innocent people of pakistan do believe in so called rulers who cheat and deceit their own country that gave them a lot. The rulers children should do study or business in their own country pakistan.The rulers should bring back all their assets in the pakistan where they rule. that is justice in islam. Otherwise they should leave this country and live there where they hide money and do business. Recommend

  • Apr 7, 2016 - 3:36PM

    Hate to see the faces of such corrupt politicians. AAAhhhh if this is democracy then we don’t neet it.Recommend

  • sajid
    Apr 7, 2016 - 6:47PM

    He holds the office which is custodian of this nation but he considers his assets and children unsafe here.
    If Pakistan is not worth living for these politicians except when they hold office, then how they can be our leaders.
    if Moral values, character, honesty and truthfulness can not be exercised by these representatives, then as a nation we should erase these terms from constitution and society also.
    We love you because you are liar, corrupt, tyrant, dishonest and foreigner. Emotions For all my leaders.Recommend

  • Chaudhry Akif Ajmal
    Apr 17, 2016 - 4:20AM

    Yes we don’t deserve an instrument of destabling Pakistan. @Aadil: Recommend

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