SC seeks money trail of Tareen’s UK house

Judges surprised by PTI leader’s claim neither he nor his children are beneficial owners


Hasnaat Mailk October 24, 2017
PTI General Secretary Jahangir Tareen. PHOTO: APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has asked Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Jahangir Tareen to produce a money trail regarding the purchase of his 12-acre property in the United Kingdom (UK).

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar asked Tareen’s counsel Sikandar Bashir Mohmand to explain to the court where the money used in the transaction came from.

“The real purpose of these proceedings is to determine honesty. Therefore, you have to tell us how the money to purchase the property was sent,” the chief justice said.

“We need to have a complete picture of how the offshore company came into being and how it is being run. Without going into technicalities, we are trying to ensure that everyone should get a fair chance,” added the honourable judge.

Tareen’s attorney told the court that his client spent £4.7 million in 2011 to buy the 12-acre Hyde House property. He said the property belonged to Sunny View Limited (SVL), an offshore company now owned by a trust set up by Tareen in May 2011.

The counsel further argued that Tareen “is no longer the legal owner as the trust is owned by the bank ESG, and although his children are not beneficial owners, they can still use it for residential purposes”. He also provided a copy of a UK court judgment, establishing the legality of the trust.

Tareen’s penalty: Defining honesty task at hand for Supreme Court

Justice Umar Ata Bandial, another judge on the bench, observed that it is beyond comprehension that Tareen “created a trust for his children of which they are not beneficial owners”. The judge found it “very strange that Tareen does not trust his own children, but does trust others”.

Justice Bandial also questioned whether the trust and the offshore company were all created to camouflage something.

Another judge, Justice Faisal Arab, said it had been admitted that Tareen did not disclose this property in his nomination papers. He added “it is commonplace for people to send illegal money abroad to purchase property in the name of a trust while hiding their identity”.

To this, the counsel claimed that his client’s money was legally earned and sent abroad through proper banking channels. "I will show the money trail… through official banking channels,” he said, adding that his client gained “absolutely no advantage” by creating this trust.

The counsel, while referring to the Panama Papers case, said that Tareen is not like the Sharifs who could not provide a money trail for their London flats.

However, the bench observed that if Tareen was the beneficial owner, he was supposed to declare it.

Later, the chief justice asked the counsel how much money had been sent by Tareen to purchase the property.

Tareen’s penalty: Defining honesty task at hand for Supreme Court

The counsel replied that in 2011, his client used £2.2 million to purchase the 12-acre property roughly one-hour outside London, adding that a total of £4.75 million was spent on the construction of the house.

He said there is no legal restriction on sending the money abroad under the Foreign Currency Ordinance 2000, adding that Tareen had disclosed everything in his tax return in the year 2000 and tax authorities never questioned him.

The hearing of the case was adjourned till Wednesday (today).

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