If PM Nawaz’s children fail to provide money trail, public office holder to be held accountable: SC

If PM Nawaz’s children fail to provide money trail, public office holder to be held accountable: SC

Islamabad (Staff Report): If Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s children fail to prove purchase of the properties in London, public office holder will be held accountable, remarked special bench of the apex court as Salman Akram Raja, lawyer of PM’s children in the Panamagate case, began his arguments on Thursday.

A three-member bench of the SC headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, has been holding the proceedings since Monday following the submission of the joint investigation team's (JIT) report.

Showing concerns over leakage of fresh documents regarding Sharif family’s money trail on media, Justice Ejaz Afzal said that documents were provided to media before submitting to the court. You have promised to submit documents to the court tomorrow, the judge remarked.

He also asked the Raja that you should give your arguments on media as well.

To which, Raja said that he did not know how the documents were leaked to the media.

The counsel argued that the JIT derived results on the basis of a letter from the ministry of justice of UAE, adding that the investigation team did not ask question Hussain Nawaz regarding the letter.

The JIT did not accept the verified documents provided by the Hussain Nawaz in this regard, he added.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that verification of Hussain Nawaz’s documents was also sought from UAE.

Raja read the letter of UAE before the court and argued that the UAE authorities had denied of having any record of Gulf Mills agreement and transfer of machinery to the country.

Justice Azmat Saeed said that UAE authorities had also said notary stamp on the documents was not issued by them.

Justice Ijaz said that Hussain Nawaz and Tariq Shafi stated before the JIT that they did not know about the notary. Hussain Nawaz had also said that he did not go to Dubai, he added. The Judge remarked it seems that documents are fake.

Raja claimed that there has been a major mistake done by the UAE authorities in this regard.

Justice Ijaz added that UAE authorities had called the both notary public fake, adding that the authorities also declared the documents of May 12, 1988 as fake on May 30, 2016. He also said that record should be submitted to the JIT.

Justice Azmat Saeed asked the counsel to give answers regarding the documents submitted by the JIT instead of raising objections to the report.

Regarding transfer of machinery to Jeddah, Salman Raja argued that the machinery was sent to Jeddah from Dubai via Abu Dhabi.

Raising objection to the statement, Justice Ijaz said that there should be record regarding transportation of machinery from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, while Raja responded that no record is maintained regarding inter-city shipment of items in UAE.

Earlier, it was told that machinery was sent from Dubai, the judge said, adding that now there is a contradiction as you (counsel) are claiming of transporting it from Abu Dhabi to Jeddah.

Justice Ijaz remarked that additional documents were submitted whenever questions are highlighted, adding that you should submit all documents to the JIT.

Raja also submitted documents acquired from Abu Dhabi customs detailing transportation of scrap and machinery from the Gulf Steel Mills, and an invoice from Ahli Steel Company showing the shipment of equipment from the Al-Azizia Steel Company.

On Submission of documents, Justice Azmat Saeed asked the lawyer to bring verified documents as it could be claimed through private documents that machinery was transported to Saudi Arabia on Titanic.

Discussing Al-Azizia Steel Mills, Justice Ijaz asked whether there were arrears lied with the company at the time of sale. Raja responded that all arrears of the mill were paid off.

Addressing the counsel, Justice Azmat said you have to respond to the claims made by law firm Mossack Fonseca that London properties are owned by Maryam.

Raja said that it was an allegation that Maryam is an owner of the flats. To that, Justice Ijaz said that it was a reality according to the JIT report.

The matter regarding sources of funds will be observed If Maryam was found an owner of the properties, Justice Ijazul Ahsan said.

Justice Ijaz remarked that question regarding funds in Jeddah has been asking for over a year, but no reply is being given.

If children fail to prove purchase of the properties in London, public office holder will be held accountable, Justice Azmat said.

Raja also submitted a 17-page objection to the JIT report, asking the court to dismiss the report and its ‘evidence’. The application termed the source material used by the investigation team unverified.

The court opened the documents of Qatari prince Hamad Bin Jasim and British Virgin Iceland and said that both defence and petitioners could get them. The documents contain two letters sent to the JIT.

Raja argued that JIT itself decided that there was no need to interview the Qatari prince, adding that further investigation should be carried out in the case as it is in incomplete.

To that Justice Ejaz remarked that you have said a new thing by asking for further investigation, adding that the JIT has sent the report after investigation.

Observing about Hill Metals Establishment, Justice Azmat said that those who take benefits from the company are known but the money trail for setting up the company is unclear.

Referring to discrepancies in documents, he remarked there is Prima Facie that the court was hearing a case of filing bogus documents to the JIT. On filing forged documents, the matter will be handle according to the law.

Justice Ijaz remarked that there is punishment of seven years in the law for such crime.

Turning to Additional Attorney General (AAG) Rana Waqar, who was also present in court, the judges inquired about the consequences of submitting fake documents in the SC. “A case would be registered and the punishment could be imprisonment up to seven years,” said AAG Waqar.

“According to the JIT report, the font used in the deed [for the London flats] was not commercially available until 2007 while the trust deed was prepared in 2006 — how were fake documents submitted in the court?” asked the irked judges.

The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow (Friday).