ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s cousin Tariq Shafi on Sunday made a second appearance before the high-powered joint investigation team (JIT) tasked with probing the Sharif family’s offshore assets.
Shafi had previously appeared before the JIT on May 15 to record his statement in connection with the Panamagate investigation.
He told the media after his JIT appearance that he was questioned about the Gulf Steel Mills in Dubai, adding he did not submit “any documents with the JIT today”.
His second appearance before the probe team lasted almost three hours and according to him the investigators’ behaviour towards him was ‘pleasant’.
“They asked [me] how and when the Gulf Steel Mills was founded and sold. I answered whatever they asked me,” Shafi said in his short comment following his appearance.
Shafi’s first testimony was of much longer duration. Later, he filed a complaint with JIT head Wajid Zia about alleged ‘misbehaviour’ of a few members of the probe team.
The PML-N leadership had claimed that Shafi was forced by some JIT members to take back two affidavits he had submitted before the Supreme Court in the Panamagate case. Those affidavits were submitted to show money trail of the London properties owned by the Sharif family.
Through the affidavit, which was part of the concise statement submitted by the PM’s elder son Hussain Nawaz in the Panamagate case, Shafi claimed that he deposited 12 million dirhams in cash with the Qatari ruling family on the directives of the late Mian Sharif, the father of Nawaz Sharif. The dirhams were obtained through the sale of the Gulf Steel Mills in 1980.
Shafi had claimed that Mian Sharif made him a stakeholder in the Gulf Steel Mills in 1974. Shafi was 19 when he was made a partner in the business.
And finally this 12 million dirhams investment was later utilised to purchase four flats in London, the affidavit stated.
The ruling family in its statements before the Supreme Court has mentioned Shafi as the legal owner in all official documents, business transactions and agreements since the establishment of the Gulf Steel Mills in the 1970s.
Shafi arrived at the Federal Judicial Academy, the temporary secretariat for the JIT, in a SUV driven by Water and Power Minister Abid Sher Ali.
Talking to the media outside the FJA, Ali claimed that PM Sharif had only been punished for toeing a progressive agenda for countrymen.
He said no corruption case was pending against the prime minister and added that the JIT was only investigating personal business of the Sharif family.
The minister also strongly criticised the PML-N’s opponents, saying after failing to win people’s mandate the opponents were left with no other option but to hatch conspiracies.
The JIT is scheduled to submit its fourth and final fortnightly report with the Supreme Court on July 10. PM’s children Hassan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz are scheduled to appear before the JIT on July 3, 4 and 5, respectively. It will be Hassan’s third and Hussain’s sixth appearance before the JIT.
So far the JIT has recorded statements of seven members of the ruling family, including the prime minister who, during his appearance before the JIT, had reportedly refused to answer the questions of the JIT, saying he had disassociated himself with the family businesses in the mid-1980s.