ISLAMABAD – A larger bench of the Supreme Court has adjourned hearing a slew of petitions seeking a probe into Panama Leaks till Tuesday and PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari would continue his arguments.
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Chairman PTI Imran Khan, Awami Muslim League president Sheikh Rasheed, scores of journalist were present in the court room for today’s proceedings.
Justice Azmat Saeed in his remarks said that the Sharif family did not submit many of the crucial documents and so their lawyers need to answer plenty of questions regarding the landmark case.
PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari kicked off his arguments by expressing that he would conclude his arguments today as he had already spent much time arguing before the court.
He expressed that the Sharif family has not presented any record regarding the bank transactions.
Justice Aijaz Ul Ahsan remarked that how could Sharif family present money trail when the property belonged to Qatari family. He also questioned Naeem as to how PTI could state that the Sharif family sent money out of Pakistan. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that Naeem Bukhari was fully aiding the court regarding the high-profile case. He went on and said that the Sharif family did not mention about trust deed and Qatari letter in any of the interviews.
To this, Naeem replied that Mian Shareef had no money for investment in Qatar. He maintained that both Hussain and Maryam Nawaz were among the directors of Hudaibia paper mills in 1997. He reiterated that Maryam Nawaz was dependent on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and added that Maryam Nawaz declared her taxable income as zero in tax returns.
Bukhari claimed that the Maryam’s BMW vehicle worth Rs. 3.5 million appreciated in value to Rs. 2.80 million in a year. He went on and said that the financial advisor of Sharif group claimed providing record regarding money trail to lawyers of Sharif family.
PTI’s counsel claimed that Hussain Nawaz gave Rs. 810 million as gift to Nawaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif did not pay tax on that worthy gift. ‘Prime Minister said that his son Hussain was living abroad’ Naeem said while quoting the premier. Justice Gulzar, in his statement said that there was nothing wrong with exchange of gifts between Nawaz Sharif and his son Hussain.
‘If transactions were carried out through banking channels, then there was nothing wrong’ said Justice Gulzar.
Justice Azmat Saeed observed that the one giving someone gift should have a National Tax Number (NTN). Naeem however, claimed that the NTN of Hussain Nawaz became dysfunctional when he went abroad.
Bukhari also alleged Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) of not probing the matter in the purview of non-payment of tax by Nawaz Sharif. He said that Maryam Nawaz also took money from her brother as loan.
At this point, Naeem said that it would be difficult to proceed further without disclosure of Sharif’s unknown sources of income. Justice Azmat Saeed remarked that the respondent must clarify its stance regarding unknown income sources and told Naeem Bukhari as well to satisfy the court instead of media.
‘The court asked 16 questions, and you responded to none’ Justice Azmat Saeed said to Naeem Bukhari.
PTI’s counsel also read the transcript of finance minister Ishaq Dar’s confessional statement regarding money laundering. He argued that according to Ishaq Dar, he was compelled to record his confession forcibly at gun point.
‘The confessional statement was made before a magistrate on May 20, 2000’ Naeem said and added that a reference was filed after the confession which was dismissed by challenged in Lahore High Court and afterwards, a referee judge dismissed the reference.
He sought the apex court to dismiss the Qatari letter presented by the Sharif family as it was contrary to what Nawaz Sharif said in his statements, however, Justice Azmat Saeed expressed that the court could not dismiss the letter at present. He claimed that the trust deed submitted by the scions of Sharif family was fake and it was formulated merely to facilitate the proceedings.
Naeem Bukhari expressed that there was a possibility of transferring money abroad through illegal means and its return through legal channels. He sought action against Chairman NAB as he did not play his part and failed to file an appeal in the context of Hudaibia paper mills case.
PTI’s counsel maintained that the powerful walks free in Pakistan while the oppressed faces punishment adding that the affluent class bars state institutions from proper functioning.
Justice Asif Khosa expressed that the investments in Qatar, London and Dubai belonged to Mian Shareef till 2004.
Justice Azmat Saeed observed that the Sharif family should clarify position over the payment of Rs. 34 million Dollars. He was of the view that the Sharif family claimed ownership of offshore companies from 2006.
Talking to newsmen outside Supreme Court, Fawad Chaudhry of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf claimed that Rs. 810 million were laundered by the Sharif family. He quoted the confessional statement of Ishaq Dar as evidence. He maintained that Maryam Nawaz was owner of Minerva limited. Naeem Ul haq also threw weight behind Fawad and maintained that the party would file a reference in the apex court for disqualification of chief minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif.
On the other hand, Daniyal Aziz of PML-N expressed that Imran Khan was a U-turn master. He said that the arguments of Naeem Bukhari were not that logical before the court. He claimed that PTI failed to prove that the money was sent abroad through illegal methods.
During the last hearing, the apex court remarked that the burden of proof rested with the ruling Sharif family and so political observers and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf are expecting something from the Sharif family regarding the evidence.
On Friday, PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari reiterated that the London flats were purchased during 1993-1996 and Nawaz Sharif was the owner of said property adding that a factory in Dubai was also set up through ‘Benami’. He alleged that Maryam Nawaz was the beneficial owner of London flats and he had no money for those flats.
PTI also submitted an interview of financial advisor of Sharif family, Haroon Pasha.
On the other hand, PM Nawaz daughter Maryam Nawaz filed details regarding her income for the last five years. In a statement before the court, she stated that the signatures on documents referring to Nescol company were fake adding Shamim Agri farms more often known as Raiwind farm house enclosed five houses.
Detailing the occupants of Shamim Agri farms she stated that her grandmother Shamim Akhter lived in one of those five houses while her father and mother lived in second house whereas her late uncle Abbas Sharif’s family lived in third house.
Maryam in a statement went on to claim that Shehbaz Sharif and his family lived in the fourth house whereas she herself resided in the fifth house.
Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who was heading the bench hearing the landmark case, cautioned that if Sharif lawyers were unable to establish ownership of Minerva Financial Services Limited, the court would have to consider Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) lawyers claim ‘true’.
Justice Aijaz Afzal categorically asked PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari whether he had any evidence endorsing that the trust deed inked in 2006 was fake whereas Justice Asif Khosa remarked that apparently, it looked the Sharif family bought London flats through family income. He also maintained that the onus of proof lay on the one in possession of something (property).
Justice Sheikh Azmat said that Hussain and Maryam Nawaz both signed the trust deed and they accepted the deed. He added that it would not be sufficient just to term the deed ‘Benami’ without any evidence.
Justice Asif Khosa remarked that both Hussain and Maryam accepted being the owner of offshore companies and so they should put forth the evidence.
Justice Aijaz remarked that SECP (Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan) keeps a record of registered companies.