ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday resumed hearing of the ongoing Panamagatecase, and decided to hold hearings on a daily basis without further adjournments.
A new five-judge bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, which includes Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmad, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh and Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, resumed hearing of the case.
During the hearing, the bench raised questions over the money trail shown by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family to purchase properties in London.
Justice Khosa, in his remarks stated that PM Nawaz did not give any reference regarding investments from Qatar in his speeches earlier. He further directed PTI counsel Naeem Bokhari to establish that the Sharif family owned properties in London prior to 2006.
The top court in November took up a slew of petitions seeking PM Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification in the wake of Panama Papers, which in April revealed that the PM’s family members had stashed money in offshore companies.
The ruling PML-N and its arch nemesis PTI made surprise moves on Tuesday. The Sharif family changed its legal team yet another time to defend them in the top court, while Imran Khan flaunted ‘evidence’ to establish that Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of Premier Nawaz Sharif, was the owner of the offshore companies exposed by the Panama Papers.
Makhdoom Ali Khan, who has worked as Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) during the era of military ruler Pervez Musharraf, is now representing Premier Sharif in the apex court. He has replaced Salman Aslam Butt, another former AGP. The Sharif family was apparently dissatisfied with his arguments at the last hearing.
Hussain Nawaz has hired Salman Akram Raja, while Maryam Nawaz and her spouse Captain Safdar were represented by senior lawyer Shahid Hamid. Shahid Hamid, the brother of Law Minister Zahid Hamid, has already represented the PML-N before the inquiry commission on electoral fraud. Earlier, Akram Sheikh was appearing on behalf of Hussain and Maryam.
Imran’s party, submitting fresh documentary evidence in the top court, claimed that Maryam Nawaz was the beneficiary of the luxury flats the Sharif family had bought in an upscale neighbourhood of London.
“Maryam was the beneficiary and the real owner of Nelson and Nescon, the two offshore companies named in the Panama Papers,” he told a news conference after submitting fresh evidence in the court. “Hussain Nawaz had set up no trust of which Maryam was a trustee. In fact, she was the real owner,” he added.
Imran described as ‘fraud’ the letter purportedly written by a Qatari royal and submitted in the top court by the Sharif family that claimed that the London flats had been purchased through the settlement of accounts between the Qatari royal family and the Sharifs.
The PTI chief also questioned where Maryam had gotten money to purchase the London flats while she was a dependent of her father. “The only thing that isn’t fake is [finance minister] Ishaq Dar’s affidavit which he had submitted before parliament,” he claimed. “Nawaz Sharif has lied both on the floor of parliament and in the Supreme Court. They [Sharif family] don’t have any money trail for the London flats.”
Imran believes the case might be decided within two weeks because 90% of the documents sent to his party by overseas Pakistanis substantiated the PTI claim. The 40-page document includes details of conversations between British Virgin Islands’ investigation department and Mosack Fonseca Company, and emails of the Minerva Community Services and Mosack.
In its additional documents, PTI informed the court that on June 12, 2012, the financial investigation agency of British Virgin Islands had asked Nescoll Limited and Nielsen Enterprises Limited about the name and contact details and physical address of the ultimate beneficial owner, registered director and shareholder of the companies.
Responding to the query, the money laundering reporting officer of the Mossack, Fonseca & Co (BVI) Limited Tortola, J Nizbeth Maduro, had written a letter to the agency, saying the ‘beneficial owner’ of the Nielsen Enterprises Ltd and Nescoll Ltd’ was Maryam Safdar. The reporting officer had also attached a copy of the passport of Maryam with the letter.
According to the Sharif family, on February 2, 2006, the premier’s daughter had signed a declaration with her brother Hussain as a trustee in his two companies. Further, Maryam, in her reply before the SC, had also claimed that she was only a trustee and not a shareholder or beneficiary of the properties.