Focus shifts to trust deeds' authenticity

No witness testified Maryam was beneficial owner before issuance of summons

Rizwan Shehzad April 12, 2018
Maryam Nawaz says I honestly don't know what crime my family has committed and why it is being victimised. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: The star witness in the Avenfield reference, Wajid Zia, admitted on Thursday that the JIT had issued summons to Maryam Nawaz and Capt (retd) Safdar prior to obtaining forensic expert Robert Radley's report.

He added that no witness had deposed by that time that the two trust deeds pertaining to Nielsen & Nescoll and Coomber group were fake or falsified.

In addition, the JIT head conceded that the letters of the British Virgin Islands (BVI)'s Financial Investigation Agency (FIA) had also not been received by that date – June 25, 2017 – and no witness said by June 25 that the former premier's daughter was the beneficial owner of the Avenfield Apartments.

During cross examination by the couple's counsel, Amjad Parvaiz, Zia admitted that Maryam was not confronted with Radley's allegations that the trust deeds were false or fake when she appeared before the JIT on July 5 – a day after the JIT received first report from the forensic expert through WhatsApp.

At one point, Zia said Maryam had produced the trust deeds and claimed that they were originals.

Avenfield reference: Focus shifts to volume 10 of JIT report during Zia's cross-examination

To the question if the JIT confronted Maryam that the trust deeds were not original and only notarised copies, Zia said the accused produced them as original and when asked to re-confirm she did.

Zia also revealed that the Supreme Court judgment of April 20, 2017, had directed former premier Nawaz Sharif and his sons -- Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz -- to cooperate with the investigation whenever required by the team.

"No specific directions were given for Maryam and Safdar," Zia subsequently admitted.

Zia, while answering Pervaiz's suggestion that nowhere in the entire JIT report has it been stated that Maryam was confronted and she 're-confirmed' that they were original trust deeds, said that it was correct.

He also conceded that none of the witnesses examined by the JIT testified that the trust deeds were false or fake.

Also, Zia admitted that the first report of Radley received on July 4 is based on photocopies of the trust deeds.

Zia admitted that no seizure memo was prepared after taking the notarised copies of the trust deeds into possession, the notarised copies were not sealed in Maryam's presence and she was not confronted with binding or eyelet of the documents.

He said that the JIT continued with the interview after taking the trust deeds into its possession.

The witness said the notarised copies were sent to Quist Solicitor – a law firm run by Zia's first cousin Akhtar Raja in the United Kingdom – on July 5 and the documents reached to Radley on July 6.

He revealed that the documents were send to Quist by "special courier".

When asked to explain the special courier, Zia revealed that the Inter-Services Intelligence's Brigadier Nauman Saeed's services were used for sending documents through an airline.

Did the JIT record statement of the special courier, Pervaiz asked. Zia laughed off the question, saying the JIT was not investigating a criminal case.

"It must be a spiritual case then," Pervaiz quipped and everyone in the courtroom burst into laughter.

To the question who engaged Radley, Zia said the JIT engaged Radley through Quist Solicitor after reviewing his CV. To the question if the CV contained any mention of 'Font Identification Expert', Zia laughed and the NAB prosecutor raised objection over the question.

Next, Pervaiz asked Zia when did the JIT received second forensic report. He replied that Radley's second report was received through WhatsApp on July 8, via email on July 9 and hard copy of the report on July 10 – the day the JIT submitted its final report before the Supreme Court.

Mode of payment to Nawaz from Capital FZE not investigated, says JIT head

Zia, while answering a question, said that no original documents collected by the JIT were submitted with the JIT report and the original documents were submitted before the apex court on July 22 without filing any application along with it.

About the custody of the original documents, Zia said they were kept in a locker which had only one set of keys and it kept in his possession.

The documents were submitted to the registrar office in the SC. To the question, if the JIT could have engage Radley through the Foreign Office instead of Quist Solicitor, Zia replied in the affirmative, adding however, it would have consumed more time.

Zia accepted that his cousin had congratulated when he was made the JIT head, saying "relatives do call and convey good wishes". He, however, did not disclose how much fee was given to him for his services.

The trust deeds were dated February 2, 2006, and had signatures of Maryam, Safdar, Hussain, Waqar Ahmed and Jeremy Freeman who was the representative of a legal firm.

On the question if the SC sent any question regarding "authentication of trust deeds" to JIT when formulated 13 questions in the order passed on April 20, 2017, Zia said it was incorrect as SC had asked JIT to find out who is the real and beneficial owner of the offshore companies.

Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir would resume hearing of the Avenfield Reference on April 13 (today).


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