Nawaz Sharif’s ouster from the corridors of power for concealing his assets abroad is just the beginning of a far larger scale of troubles for him and his immediate family members. At the heart of his troubles are the strong legal facts and the evidences waiting to confront them when their trial would begin on “ corruption and corrupt practices” in the coming days and weeks.
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There appears to be a method in the madness to deliberately engage in more political rhetoric and less in explaining the legal facts right from last year when the Panama Papers Scandal revealed the offshore business of Nawaz Sharif’s children. It all began when the ousted Prime Minister through frequent and panicked televised addresses tried to defend himself.
“ Those who earn through corruption and (other) illegal means, neither do they register the (offshore) companies in their own names nor do they retain (other such) assets in their names”.
Never did he know that in hindsight, his tricky proverbial propaganda line to downplay the money-laundering allegations would precisely be applicable on none other than himself.
“His entire defense line collapsed during the court hearings which left behind a hilarious web of contradictions on how the properties in London were bought – something which led both justices to disqualify him on moral turpitude under articles 62 and 63 of the constitution for lying to the nation.”
Subsequent findings by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) found his children to have set up at least 16 offshore companies. These were in addition to several other steel mills abroad allegedly with the money Nawaz Sharif and his other family members laundered from Pakistan to overseas destinations. And all this also reflected in the adverse rulings of the apex court.
1st Phase of litigation
The first phase of the almost nine months long litigation against the ousted Prime Minister and his family is over with his disqualification by all five judges though with varying reasoning and varying citation of evidences.
Two judges in their judgments said that the expensive properties in London purchased through two Panama based off-shore companies Nielsen and Nescoll from 1993 to 1995, belong to Nawaz Sharif. These were ostensibly disproportionate to the declared and known sources of income of the ousted Prime Minister and hence they ordered his trial on money-laundering charges. His entire defense line collapsed during the court hearings which left behind a hilarious web of contradictions on how the properties in London were bought – something which led both justices to disqualify him on moral turpitude under articles 62 and 63 of the constitution for lying to the nation. The other three judges invoked the same provisions of the Constitution but they solely relied on the confessions of Nawaz Sharif to have held an undeclared employment contract and receivable assets of an offshore company owned by his son Hassan Nawaz in Dubai, to send him packing home. Under the law, being an elected public representative he was bound to publicly declare all his assets.
“They are set to be prosecuted on money-laundering charges better legally known as corruption and corrupt practices. In addition, they are likely to be tried on perjury charges.”
They relied upon abundantly triable evidences gleaned by the JIT they had set up in April this year after the Prime Minister behind the scene ensured that no civilian state institution dares to independently probe against the ruling family.
Therefore, three justices ordered their prosecution on charges of corruption and corrupt practices through Accountability Courts on the basis of available evidence collected by the JIT on how the money was laundered from Pakistan to abroad to set up a business empire one after the other in the Middle East and other overseas destinations.
“They in their efforts to prove their innocence, have already indulged themselves in perjury and fabricated scores of documents first during Supreme Court hearings and subsequently during their interrogation by the JIT.”
2nd Phase of litigation
The second phase of litigation would begin anytime soon once the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) starts the prosecution of members of the ruling family as per the orders of the apex court. They are set to be prosecuted on money-laundering charges better legally known as corruption and corrupt practices. In addition, they are likely to be tried on perjury charges. The offence of corruption and corrupt practices entails 14 years imprisonment while the perjury is punishable by seven years in jail.
“The ruling family badly failed to provide the money trail with which the properties in London were purchased through offshore companies which have been at the center of the entire investigation and the court hearing.”
Under the National Accountability Ordinance of 1999 and the Law of Evidence, the entire burden of proof is upon Nawaz Sharif and his three children to prove their innocence. The ruling family badly failed to provide the money trail with which the properties in London were purchased through offshore companies which have been at the center of the entire investigation and the court hearing.
They in their efforts to prove their innocence, have already indulged themselves in perjury and fabricated scores of documents first during Supreme Court hearings and subsequently during their interrogation by the JIT. The evidences on perjury are now all part of an undeniable official record.
Nonetheless, the Supreme Court exercised caution and did not punish them on perjury directly though judges could have done so. However, they left the matter to the Accountability Court which is likely to convict the ousted premier and his children and others given the overwhelming evidences against them.
Troubling Legal Evidence
The entire defense line of ruling family has been that Muhammad Sharif, the late father of the ousted Prime Minister bequeathed almost his entire business of steel mills to Hussain Nawaz, the son Nawaz Sharif.
Hussain claimed to have bought properties in London in 2006 in his own name with the money received from the sale of steel mills one after the other.
Hussain Nawaz was bound to provide the money trail with which factories were set up first by his grandfather in Dubai, then in Qatar and later in Jeddah. However, they created bogus documents and fabricated evidences including a letter by Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani, the Qatari prince who claimed that his father had business ties with the late father of ousted premier. His story is entirely based on hearsay have already been rejected by the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, the JIT found the original document revealing that in fact ownership of London properties belongs to Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of the Prime Minister. The investigators have also retrieved evidence about the fake bank accounts which were used to illegally transfer money from Pakistan to buy these properties in London in early 1990s.
“Therefore, the leading reason Nawaz Sharif has resorted to crying “ foul play” over his ouster, are cogent legal facts and evidence all of which are set to confront him and his family members during the trial court proceedings.”
In their failed attempt to prove their innocence, both brother and sister created fake documents to show that Maryam was a mere trustee of the properties in London and the not the real owner, and Hussain was the real owner. Her husband Captain retired Safdar was made an eye-witness to this Trust Deed. The JIT however, discovered that it was a fake document as the font used in creating bogus Trust Deed was not even officially launched in 2006 by Microsoft.
Ruling family between rock & hard place
The ruling family is between a rock and a hard place. It can neither deny its own bogus documents and nor can it produce more evidences. The only option left with the Prime Minister, his children and others is to manipulate to delay the court proceedings, something unlikely to work given the fact that a judge of the Supreme Court is going to oversee the entire prosecution process by the NAB, about which the court had observed that it has become a dead organization given its lack of interest to prosecute the ruling family.
The NAB is bound to comply with the judgement of the apex court to start the trial within six weeks and conclude it in six months. Irfan Naeem Mangi who represented the NAB in the JIT, is going to be a prosecuting officer who is well aware of the nitty gritty of the entire case, therefore, this time around, the ruling party is unlikely to have much space to undertake manipulations, something the Sharif family have been doing for decades to avert a genuine investigation and prosecution in the courts. Therefore, the leading reason Nawaz Sharif has resorted to crying “ foul play” over his ouster, are cogent legal facts and evidence all of which are set to confront him and his family members during the trial court proceedings.Share: