Maryam Nawaz had no role in incorporation of offshore firms, admits Wajid Zia

10:45 AM | 14 Apr, 2018
Maryam Nawaz had no role in incorporation of offshore firms, admits Wajid Zia
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ISLAMABAD - Wajid Zia, the head of Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) admitted before the accountability court on Friday that Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of former premier Nawaz Sharif had no role in the incorporation of offshore firms Nielson and Nescoll.

The accountability court presided by Judge Mohammad Bashir resumed hearing in the graft references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the Sharif family and the defence counsel, Amjad Pervez cross-examined JIT head and prosecution witness Wajid Zia.

Counsel for Maryam and Safdar, Amjad Pervaiz, kicked off the twelfth cross-examination session of the JIT head and inquired about the owner of the Avenfield properties before it came under the possession of Nielson and Nescoll.

Zia replied that the team had not investigated prior ownership before its transfer to the two companies.

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Wajiz Zia- the assistant director of Federal Investigation Agency - also revealed that the investigators did not probe Dibb Lupton Broomhead, its partner Lawrence Radley and the management company, Arena, in the Avenfield apartments reference.

To the admission, Amjad Pervez claimed that the investigation might have proved that Maryam had no connection with the Avenfield property and alleged the JIT 'deliberately avoided' investigation to falsely implicate Maryam and her husband Captain (r) Safdar in the case.

The star witness, however, denied the allegation and said: “It’s incorrect to suggest this.”

Though Zia clarified that Maryam was not involved in the incorporation of offshore firms, he said the certification by the British Virgin Island authorities of a correspondence between financial investigation agencies (FIA of BVI) and Mossack Fonseca established the link of Ms Nawaz with Minerva that was documented through a letter dated Dec 5, 2005.

"There was a documentary evidence to connect her with Nescoll enterprises and Nielsen Limited, as they were owned through bearer shares certificates at the time of their incorporation," he told the defence counsel.

Zia continued that the JIT did not collect record to establish who had been administering secretarial administration of Nescoll & Nielsen since their incorporation in January 2006 adding that the JIT did not have record of the companies managing or maintaining the Avenfield apartments from 1993 to 1996 or about the owner of the flats before the two BVI companies Nescoll and Nielsen, Dawn News reported.

The counsel for the Sharif family argued that as per land registry, Avenfield apartments 17 & 17-A were registered under the proprietorship of Nescoll Enterprises, c/o Dibb Lupton Broomhead, in 1993 & 1996, while the flats 16 and 16-A were registered under the proprietorship of Nielsen c/o Dibb Lupton Broomhead on July 31, 1995.

The defence counsel also presented a letter sent by the partner of Dibb Lupton Broomhead, Lawrence Radley, to the counsel for the Sharif family in the Supreme Court, Salman Akram Raja.

Mr Radley in the letter stated: “I can confirm that I acted on behalf of the purchasers of the Avenfield apartments around 1993 to 1996. The properties were purchased through two British Virgin Island companies Nielsen & Nescoll and instructions to purchase the properties were not provided by any member of the Sharif family.”

After this, Mr Zia was asked if the JIT had investigated Mr Radley, to which he replied that the JIT decided not to associate Mr Radley in its investigation because the letter clearly stated that the flats were purchased through two offshore companies.

Zia explained that the purchase through offshore companies was devised to maintain anonymity admitting that in the JIT report there was no mention of the letter written to Mr Raja.

The defence counsel then presented another letter written by the company, namely Arena, to thank Hussain Nawaz, the son of former premier Nawaz Sharif, for acquiring management services.

Mr Zia said the JIT did not investigate Arena as it was a service provider which had nothing to do with the ownership of Nielsen and Nescoll and Arena’s letter was separately submitted to the apex court.

However, Amjad Pervez asserted that Arena was not a service provider but a management company which liaised on behalf of Hussain Nawaz with the service providing companies.