The Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT), formed by the Supreme Court to investigate the Sharif family’s business dealings, has found glaring disparities in the family’s known sources of income and their actual wealth which it says the Sharif family was unable to substantiate.
The JIT’s report on the probe, sections of which circulated Monday evening, suggests that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, as well as daughtre Maryam Nawaz have been found in violation of Section 9 of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Ordinance, 1999.
“Significant gap/disparity amongst the known and declared sources of income and the wealth accumulated by the Respondent No. 1, 6, 7 and 8 have been observed,”
The JIT observed in its concluding remarks in the report.
Respondent 1 refers to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; Respondent 6 refers to Maryam Nawaz; while Respondents 7 and 8 are used to refer to Hussain and Hassan Nawaz respectively.
“The financial structure and health of companies in Pakistan having linkage to the Respondents also do no substantiate the wealth of the Respondents,” it continued.
“Moreover, irregular movement of huge amounts in shape of loans and gifts from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-based company (Hill Metals Establishment), United Kingdom based companies (Flagship Investments Limited and others) and United Arab Emirates based Company (Capital FZE) to Respondent No. 1, Respondent No. 7 and Pakistan based companies of Respondent No. 1 and family have been highlighted.
“The role of off-shore companies is critically important as several offshore companies […] have been identified to be linked with their businesses in UK while conducting this investigation.
These companies were mainly used for inflow of funds into UK based companies; which not only acquired expensive properties in UK from such funds but also revolve these funds amongst their companies of UK, KSA, UAE and Pakistan.”
“In addition to the companies, Respondent No. 1 and 7 have been found to be recipients of these funds movement into Pakistan as gifts/loans whose purpose/reason have not justified by them before the JIT. Needless to say, these UK companies were loss-making entities with heavily engaged in revolving of funds vis-a-vis creating a smoke screen that the expensive properties of UK were due to the business operations of these UK companies.”
The JIT then refers to Section 9(a)(v) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 — which states that “A holder of public office, or any other person, is said to commit or to have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices […] if he or any of his dependents or benamidars owns and possesses or has acquired right or title to any assets or holds irrevocable power of attorney in respect of any assets or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, which he cannot reasonably account for or maintains a standard of assets beyond that which is commensurate with his sources of income…”
The JIT also invokes Section 14(c) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, which states that: “In any trial of an offence punishable under clause (v) of sub-section (a) of Section 9 of this Ordinance, the fact that the accused person on his behalf, is in possession for which the accused person cannot satisfactorily account, of assets and pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, or that such person has, at or about the time of the commission of the offence with which he is charged, obtained an accretion to his pecuniary resources or property for which he cannot satisfactorily account, the Court shall presume, unless the contrary is proved, that the accused person is guilty of the offence of corruption and corrupt practices and his conviction therefore shall not be invalid by reason only that it is based solely on such presumption.”
In a section of the report dealing with the Gulf Steel Mills, the report includes what appears to be an official response from the UAE’s Ministry of Justice rejecting, prima facie, key statements made by Tariq Shafi, a cousin of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and a key respondent in the case.It says that the sale of 25pc of the shares of Al Ahli Steel (Gulf Steel Mills) in April 1980 for 12 million dirhams, as claimed by Tariq Shafi, never occurred and no record of its notarisation could be found. This statement had been a core part of the Sharif family’s defence of their sources of wealth.
The UAE officials further said they found no customs record of the transport of scrap machinery from Ahli Steel Mills from Dubai to Jeddah during 2001-2002 and that, in fact, “it seemed there wasn’t any scrap machinery transported from Dubai to Jeddah during 2001-2002.”There was also the revelation that there is no record of the transfer of 12m dirhams to Fahad Bin Jasim Bin Jabar Bin Al Thani by Tariq Shafi in UAE’s central bank.
The Supreme Court bench overseeing the JIT, which will convene next Monday, has yet to review the report and pass a judgement.It comprises Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Ejaz Afzal, the three judges who authored the majority verdict in the Panamagate case and sought to give a chance to the Sharif family to substantiate the sources of their wealth through the JIT’s probe.
The drawn out Supreme Court case to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for allegedly misleading the nation on his family’s alleged involvement in corrupt practices, as outlined in the Panamagate case, had ended April 20 with the court ordering the formation of the JIT to probe the family’s sources of wealth.
The final verdict had been split 3-2 among the five-judge bench, with the two dissenting notes from Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed. Justice Ejaz Afzal had authored the majority opinion in the 540-page verdict.
The two judges who ruled against PM Nawaz Sharif had said he should be disqualified as he could no longer be considered ‘honest’ and ‘truthful’ (ameen and sadiq), whereas the other three were in favour of forming a JIT to definitively answer the question of whether the allegations against the prime minister were true or not.
The five-judge bench had, however, agreed that it was not satisfied with regards to the money trail provided by the Sharif family’s counsels and ordered the formation of a JIT to investigate the Sharifs’ business dealings abroad.
The court further said that: “upon receipt of the reports, periodic or final of the JIT, as the case may be, the matter of disqualification of respondent No. 1 [Nawaz Sharif] shall be considered. If found necessary for passing an appropriate order in this behalf, [Nawaz Sharif or any other person may be summoned and examined.”
“A thorough investigation is required,” Justice Khosa had concluded as he read out the the court’s verdict.