ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has still not been able to produce the complete bank account details for his offshore company Niazi Service Limited (NSL).
Earlier, a three-judge bench of the apex court – headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar – gave 10 days to Imran to provide a complete money trail regarding the ownership of land in Bani Gala, Islamabad. During the hearing, the PTI chief’s attorney could not satisfy the bench with the evidence he presented.
The bench had asked Imran to provide details of transactions regarding the transfer of £562,000 from the offshore company’s account to his ex-wife Jemima Khan.
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The bench is hearing a petition filed by PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi seeking Imran’s disqualification on the basis of his ‘differing’ statements regarding the acquisition of land in Bani Gala. The bench has conducted 36 hearings in this matter, wherein supplementary statements have been submitted on both sides.
The bench observed that although Imran has submitted details of his correspondence from April 28, 2003, wherein he authorised a London bank to transfer £562,000 to his wife’s account, Imran did not submit any documentary evidence to substantiate the letter. “Have you paid the amount in cash,” the chief justice asked lawyer Naeem Bukhari.
Bukhari responded by saying that his client had transferred the money through banking channels, but he could not present a bank statement for NSL to support his position. He then sought time to consult his client regarding details of the bank accounts involved in the transaction.
Likewise, the bench also noted that after making the payment to Jemima, £132,000 was still in the NSL account in 2003, but Imran did not disclose that amount in his annual return to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
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When Bukhari said that that amount was set aside for use in litigation, the bench observed that if money was Imran’s asset, why it had been concealed. The court also observed that it would examine the consequences of this concealment.
Legal experts have been debating whether the SC could disqualify an MNA on the basis of his omission from an annual return filed to the ECP.
Meanwhile, the bench also noted a discrepancy in the PTI chief’s statement regarding the same transaction, which was valued at Rs6.5 million, in his 2002 nomination papers. Imran, in his first statement, said the amount was loan given to him by his wife to make the initial payment for the purchase of land in Bani Gala. Now he claims the amount was a gift.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked Akram Sheikh, counsel for the PML-N leader, to assist in clarifying this while keeping in mind that there is no allegation of money laundering against Imran. The hearing was adjourned until September 28.
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Earlier, Imran submitted a supplementary statement claiming that monetary gifts given to him by Jemima during their marriage are a matter between a husband and wife and are not declarable to any authority.
According to the statement, a gift of Rs6.5 million and a final payment of Rs800,000 for the land was made by Jemima Khan via remittances to Rashid Khan during April 2002 and January 2003
It was also submitted that in his tax returns for the year ending June 30, 2002, the PTI chief had accounted for the Rs6.5 million amount as a gift.
It is further submitted that the London apartment was disposed of on April 14, 2003, meaning that there was no foreign asset to be declared before the Election Commission of Pakistan or the Federal Board of Revenue as the cut-off date for the respective statements was June 30, 2003, and that the Bani Gala land was ‘in fact and law’ the property of Imran’s then-spouse and was declared as such.
Bukhari – Imran’s attorney – told the judges that he had already submitted a supplementary statement to the court on Monday on his client’s behalf.
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