ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was issued an Iqama (residence permit) by the UAE government for being the chairman of the board of Capital FZE, an offshore firm exposed by the six-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) tasked to probe the Sharif family’s offshore wealth, the premier’s counsel accepted on Tuesday.
“Hassan Nawaz [PM’s son] was the owner of Capital FZE and PM Nawaz was only designated as Chairman of the Board of this offshore company but he did not receive any salary,” Khawaja Haris told the apex court’s three-judge bench in response to a query during the ongoing hearing of the Panamagate case.
In his arguments, the counsel contended that the high-powered inquiry panel did not confront the prime minister regarding the documents of his employment in the Dubai-based firm. Upon this, the top court bench told Haris that he may give an explanation before the court if the investigative body did not give an opportunity to PM Nawaz for clarifying his position in the matter.
Another judge Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that the premier and his family members were uncooperative with the inquiry panel during interrogation. “It was their policy or approach to not say anything about the properties and let the JIT find whatever it can,” he remarked.
The judge wondered what else the probe body was supposed to do when they initially gave the ruling family ample opportunity to say anything about their money trail. He also wondered over the prime minister’s demeanour with the JIT as Nawaz did not give any reasonable reply to the questions posed by members of the inquiry panel. “In his response to one of the questions the PM said he didn’t see the Qatari letters. This was a total denial and noncooperation,” he observed.
Regarding the JIT’s recommendation of reopening of Hudabiya Paper Mills case, Justice Ijaz said the investigation in the case was linked with the ongoing Panamagate case, therefore, the probe panel looked into the scam.
In his remarks, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who is heading the top court’s three-judge bench, observed that the court did not rely on the JIT report but on the material collected by the panel.
Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh observed that the court will follow the law and the JIT recommendations were not binding on it. “We are not closing the doors to the ruling family members to give their explanations,” he said.