Panamagate case: Top court grills NAB, FBR for not probing Sharif family

Published: February 21, 2017

ISLAMABAD: As the Panamagate case hearing resumed in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, the five-judge larger bench of the apex court questioned heads of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for not taking appropriate steps to investigate the Panama Papers scandal.

During the proceedings of the case, the court asked NAB chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry about the steps undertaken by the accountability watchdog in the Panamagate case. In his response, Chaudhry said he was waiting for the clearance of ‘regulator’ in the matter.

Upon this the five-judge bench, which is hearing a slew of petitions against the Sharif family’s alleged corruption in the ongoing Panamagate case, expressed its wonder, asking who the chairman’s regulator was. “Are you regulated by someone?” Justice Gulzar Ahmad asked the NAB chairman.

NAB’s probe exposed Sharifs’ corruption in Hudabiya scam, docs reveal

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who is heading the apex court bench, also wondered that the term “regulator” was also used by the Qatar prince in his letter, written in favour of the ruling family, to the court. “I have been unable to understand who the regulator is in Pakistan,” he remarked.

When the bench asked the NAB chairperson whether or not he still intended to file a reference against the four-year-old Lahore High Court verdict for quashing Rs1.2 billion Hudabiya Paper Mills case against the Sharifs, Chaudhry said he will stand by his earlier view of not filling an appeal against LHC order. Upon this the bench asked him to be ready to face the consequences as the court cannot force him to file an appeal at this stage.

Justice Khosa wondered that NAB did not give weightage to the opinion of an LHC judge who asked for reinvestigation in the Hudabiya Paper mills case. He said everyone was shifting their responsibility including the ruling family and the state investigation agencies.

Addressing the NAB chairman, Justice Khosa said: “You could have looked into the Panamangate matter but you didn’t.” The judge went on to observe that chairperson of the anti-corruption watchdog could not be removed by those who appointed him. “I wish people who have such privilege could realise that they have a major responsibility.”

Justice Khosa said the allegation was not new in the Panamagate case as it was linked with NAB’s 17-year-old Hudabiya Paper Mills reference against the Sharifs. “At least you could have considered the material, which was already available with the NAB,” he said. Justice Azmat Saeed Shaikh also observed NAB can initiate inquiry against any official or office-bearer whose assets are beyond means.

Give maximum punishment to corrupt officials, SC orders courts

Earlier, the SC bench observed that the FBR took one year for the verification of suspects named in the Panama Papers scandal.

When FBR chairman Dr Muhammad Irshad stated before the court that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son, Hussain Nawaz, was not a resident of Pakistan, Justice Azmat asked if he checked travel history of the PM’s son to check how many days he spent in the country.

Justice Khosa said criminal cases had been registered against the ruling family since 1994 as money was allegedly laundered, asking whether FBR took any action.

Justice Gulzar observed that functionaries of the state were not doing their jobs. Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan asked if the FBR high-ups were not taking actions against the rulers because they were being appointed by those [Sharif family] who were at dock. The judge observed that the FBR chairperson must prove his intention through his conduct.

“Thank you very much for not assisting the court,” Justice Khosa told FBR’s Irshad.

NAB, FBR saving PM Nawaz: Imran

“The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) are making excuses to save the prime minister from an investigation of his corruption amounting to billions,” chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan said in his remarks on today’s proceedings.

A prime minister’s corruption does not just result in loot and plunder, it also destroys institutions and the country’s ethical foundations. “Instead, a Prime Minister should be leading by an example,” Imran remarked.

PTI chairman went on to add that he fears a backlash by the Sharif family in view of the ongoing court hearing which, he said, may go against them. “PML-N has a history of resorting to violence when a [court] decision is made against them.”

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Reader Comments (8)

  • citizen26
    Feb 21, 2017 - 1:27PM

    Soon we will find out that all of them I.e. NAB, FBR and ruling family were dual nationals and they’ll go in self exile to London, Dubai and Canada for 10 years and would do telephonic politics.Recommend

  • Jaffer Ali Khan
    Feb 21, 2017 - 1:42PM

    FBR Chairman was promoted out of rank in grade 22 .He was 17th in Seniority;how will he be independent?Recommend

  • Haris
    Feb 21, 2017 - 2:57PM

    That is some interesting proceedings going on right there, but not surprising I must say. I hope SC is actually will really do what it is up to.Recommend

  • muhammad usman ali
    Feb 21, 2017 - 3:16PM

    Lets hope that the court punishes these incompetent politicians along with their appointed puppetsRecommend

  • Ayesha Ali
    Feb 21, 2017 - 7:08PM

    So why is FBR so inefficient. I guess all senior officers are promoted on considerations other than merit?Recommend

  • Zaman
    Feb 21, 2017 - 7:23PM

    Doesn’t it call for the need to put the Nawaz Govt. at halt and matters should be shifted to interim govt. to minimise further damages to the state and to restrict the culprits from using their influence over regulatory authorities.Recommend

  • Shahid Jami
    Feb 21, 2017 - 7:43PM

    Every NTN holder whether resident or not resident in Pakistan is required to file annual return of total income under section 114 (1)(b)(vii) of Income Tax Ordinance 2001. Chairman FBR statement before Supreme Court that Hussain Nawaz is not resident in Pakistan is irrelevant. For not filing return FBR should have issued notice under section 114(4) for filing of return. Recommend

  • Certitude
    Feb 21, 2017 - 9:10PM

    They will catch the small fish, not the big ones. #Vested interests. #Conflict of interests. Ludicrous state of affairs or should i say affairs of state. Is this what our nation was made for, to morph into a corruption spreading machinery. What defines a failed state i wonder. Patriotism results from inability of the common man to be dual national. #Divine intervention needed. #Army watching? #Biggest threat to national interests.

    Respected Army chief Sir, Action needed. We are being eaten hollow behind the delusional facade of stable government.Recommend

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