Pakistan

LONDON – Ruling Sharif family purchased properties in upscale neighbourhood of London at Avenfield House in the 1990’s, according to a latest report by BBC.

The report that is expected to stir a storm in Pakistani politics came out on Friday and suggested that ever since the date of purchase, there has been no change in ownership of said properties.

According to official documents available with BBC Urdu, the four flats were purchased in the name of  Nielsen and Nescoll companies.

The report while quoting the official record of business deals of offshore companies reveals that when Hassan Nawaz set up Flagship Investment Ltd in 2001, the address he provided at the time of registration of the company was that of his Park Lane apartment.

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Companies established by Hassan Nawaz and their respective address

The report allegedly denies the claims of Sharif family of having purchased the controversial apartments in 2006.

According to the report, flat No. 17 was purchased on June 1, 1993 by Nescoll whereas flat No. 16 and 16 A were purchased on July 31, 1995 by second offshore firm Nielsen.

Fourth flat bearing No. 17 A was purchased on July 30, 1996 by Nescoll.

Furthermore, documents with the BBC also reveal that Flagship Investment Ltd, a British company, owns another flat titled ’12-A’ located in the same block of the Mayfair apartments and it was bought at Avenfield House on January 29, 2004 the director of which is Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son Hassan Nawaz.

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Apart from this, Hassan Nawaz is also the owner of four offshore companies which are Quint Paddington Limited, Quint Gloucester Place Limited, Flagship Securities Limited and another company.

The report also claims that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hosted slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto in these same flats, where the two inked the Charter of Democracy during their self-exile.

The sons of premier Nawaz Sharif were contacted by the British Broadcasting Corporation for recording their viewpoint but they avoided responding to it.

After the Panama Papers were published, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son, Hussain Nawaz, had accepted the family’s ownership of Nielsen and Nescoll.

Hussain had said: “The Park Lane apartments in London are ours, two offshore companies, Nielsen and Nescoll, own these flats and I am the beneficial owner of these companies, working under a trust held by my sister Maryam Nawaz Sharif.”

The report came amid the landmark Panama case currently being heard by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in which Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s counsel Naeem Bukhari in his arguments claimed that the flats had been bought between 1993-1996, under the name of the premier’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, who he said was underage at the time.

Naeem claimed that the Park Lane flats 16 and 16a were bought in 1995 for 75,000 pounds.

What could perturb Sharif family is the fact that during the last week, Justice Khosa who is heading the five-member bench in his remarks categorically stated: ‘Ownership of Neilson and Nescol before 2006 is what you [Bukhari] have to prove.’

Bukhari in his arguments reiterated that Maryam Nawaz instead of Hussain Nawaz was the actual beneficial owner of Minerva Financial Services Limited, which held Nescoll Limited and Nielson Enterprises Limited, the owners of the four highly-priced London flats.