The Supreme Court of Pakistan announces the historical judgment of Panama Paper Leaks case.
A five-member larger bench of apex court headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal and consisting of Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, and Justice Ejaz-ul-Hassan is due to announce the judgment at 2:00 pm.
Timeline of Panama case
April 14, 2016: Panama leaks shock the world
A huge leak of 11.5 million documents from the database of a Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, exposed politicians, celebrities, businessmen and criminals who had set up offshore companies. ICIJ published papers.
April 5: The Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses the nation and forms a commission to probe the leaks.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the formation of a high-level judicial commission to investigate the allegations of owning off-shore companies and concealing assets.
“I hereby announce to form a judicial commission which will be led by a former judge of the Supreme Court,” the premier said while addressing the nation.
“This commission will weigh the allegations being leveled and will give its verdict after due investigation.”
April 10: Imran Khan demands CJP to head the probe
Imran Khan demands that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government form an inquiry commission led by the Chief Justice of Pakistan to probe the premier and his family following the startling revelations made in the Panama data leaks.
“The commission should also include white-collar-crime experts and an audit firm that follows the trail of money to determine where it leads,” Imran added.
April 13: Former Supreme Court judges who were contacted by the government to head the inquiry commission turned down the offer.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali regrets the decision of judges’ to not head the inquiry commission.
April 16: Government proposed Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the inquiry commission that will investigate the Panama Papers leaks.
The Commission of Inquiry had the following Terms of Reference:
• To examine information relating to involvement of Pakistani citizens, persons of Pakistan origin and legal entities in off-shore companies in Panama or in any other country.
• Involvement of former and present holders of public office in writing off their own bank loans or those of their immediate family members through political influence.
• Transfer from Pakistan of funds which have originated from corruption, commissions or kickbacks, and to determine whether, in any case referred to above, any law for the time being in force in Pakistan has been infringed.
• In case the answer to above is affirmative, to determine responsibility for such infringement, and to make such recommendations as may be deemed appropriate.
• The Commission shall have powers under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 for summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person, including a tax expert or accountant, and examining him on oath, requiring the discovery and production of any documents, receiving evidence on affidavits, issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses on documents and requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any Court or office.
• The Commission shall have the powers to require any person, subject to any privilege which may be claimed by that person under any law for the time being in force, to furnish information on such point or matters as, in the opinion of the Commission, may be useful for, or relevant to, the subject matter of the inquiry.
• Any officer not below the rank of a gazetted officer, specially authorized in this behalf by the President of the Commission may enter any building or place where the Commission has reason to believe that any books of account or other documents relating to the subject matter of the inquiry may be found, and may seize any such books of account or documents or take extracts or copies therefrom subject to the provisions of section 102 and section 103 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, insofar as they may be applicable.
• Any proceeding before the Commission shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860
• The Commission shall be assisted by all the concerned authorities of the Federal and Provincial Governments.
• The Commission shall start the inquiry at a place and on a date to be fixed by it and shall submit its report to the Federal Government in accordance with its Terms of Reference.
• The Cabinet Division shall provide secretarial assistance to the Commission.
April 22: The PM addresses the nation again after intensifying uproar and severe obloquy.
He said he had nothing to hide and would present himself along with his family for accountability.
“I had announced to make a judicial commission under the supervision of a retired Supreme Court judge. Though I wasn’t named in the revelations, being the prime minister of a democratic country, I considered it as a duty to clear the air,” he said.
“I announce to present me and my family for accountability. I will go home if found guilty.”
“I challenge all those who allege tax fraud to come forward and present evidence. If charges are proved against me, I will resign immediately,” vowed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The prime minister stated that he had taken the decision to write a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, for the formation of a commission to probe the allegations levelled against his family and him.
April 25: Opposition rejects ToRs of Government
Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf rejected the Terms of Reference of the inquiry commission formed to probe into Panama Leaks.
PTI senior leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a meeting with opposition leader Khurshid Shah and exchanged views over the letter written by government to Chief Justice of Pakistan.
Both leaders expressed their concerns about not taking opposition into confidence before writing letter to CJP adding that the government should consult with opposition parties before writing letter.
May 3: Opposition comes up with ToRs
The leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly (NA) Syed Khurshid Shah formally forwarded the Terms of References (TORs) put together by the opposition parties for an investigation into Panama Papers revelations to Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif, local media reported.
The Opposition Leader in National Assembly moved a one-page letter, attaching along the TORs, to the Prime Minister. Shah demanded the PM’s agreement on the opposition’s TORs.
The ToRs include the following:
Whether a respondent, by concealing the ownership and source of income through which the properties were purchased has committed corrupt and illegal practices under the elections/tax laws.
• A special law titled “Panama Papers (inquiry and Trial) Act 2016” should be passed to facilitate the investigation into the assets, both foreign and domestic, of the prime minister. The law shall be formed with the consensus of the opposition parties.
• A special commission should be formed, headed by Chief Justice and comprising two other SC judges nominated by him.
• It shall be the critical duty of the commission to verify the money trail which provided funds for such offshore companies.
• The government and all its related agencies and organisations like NAB, FIA, IB, SBP and SECP shall extend all cooperation and assistance necessary to the commission and shall comply with its directions
• The procedure of the inquiry shall be fully inquisitorial in character The commission should complete its inquiry in relation to the prime minister and his family in three months.
May 10: Raheel Sharif asks the PM to resolve Panama issue
Raheel Sharif expressed his concern over the current political situation of the country and suggested that the PM order an investigation into the Panama Leaks on a priority basis by calling for “across-the-board” accountability, a veiled reference to the controversy kicked up by the Panama leaks.
May 13: Supreme Court refuses the government’s request to form judicial commission to probe Panama leaks
Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali declined the federal government’s plea to form a judicial commission to probe the Panama Papers leaks.
Announcing the decision, CJP Jamali said in order for a commission to be formed, a legislation will first have to be passed by the parliament.
“Formation of commission of inquiry under the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act 1956 (Act VI of 1956), looking to its limited scope, will result in the constitution of a toothless commission, which will serve no useful purpose, except giving bad name to it,” said a communication sent to the law secretary by Supreme Court registrar Arbab Mohammad Arif.
May 16: PM addresses the National Assembly, urging the opposition to cooperate for joint Terms of Reference (ToRs).
“We are not afraid of anything and present ourselves for accountability,” PM Nawaz told Parliament.
“I request the House to join me in formulating a charter, like the one I had signed with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (late), to investigate Panama Papers.”
After prolonged deliberations, both opposition and PM agreed that the commission would probe the leaks under ToRs.
June 24: PTI, PPP seek PM’s disqualification through ECP
PTI filed a petition in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seeking the disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a member of National Assembly.
PTI members Murad Saeeed and Ali Muhammad Khan submitted the petition seeking a copy of Nawaz Sharif’s nomination papers from the ECP.
The petition stated that Nawaz Sharif concealed facts in his nomination papers therefore he is not ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’ (honest and righteous).
September 30: Imran Khan holds march in Raiwind
“We are going to give Nawaz Sharif time till Muharram to present himself for accountability,” he said. “We will not let the coward rule this country. We don’t accept Nawaz Sharif our rulers,” Khan said.
“Panama Leaks is not an allegation but a proof of Nawaz Sharif’s corruption that is all out in open” he said. “I ask the FBR, FIA and NAB’s chairman, why couldn’t you see all these proofs?” He questioned.
“I ask Chief Justice, this nation wants justice, respected Supreme Court of Pakistan” he asked.
“Begum Nawaz Sharif said we bought apartments in 2000 while Nawaz Sharif said we bought them in 2005. Then, here in 1999, Hassan Nawaz is saying that he had rented the Mayfair apartments and money used to come from Pakistan” he added.
“In 2012, Chaudhry Nisar said flats were bought 20 years ago, Nawaz Shairf said 7 years ago. Today West is ahead of us only because their institutions are so strong.
“Khwaja Asif says to the Prime Minister in assembly that don’t worry that you’re caught red handed, people will forget. They have appointed their own darbaris as PEMRA and PTV heads” Khan said.
He also announced that he would soon announce the date of Islamabad march, which he did.
November 2: Imran Khan’s ‘lockdown’ changed to ‘thanksgiving’ rally as apex court finally intervened.
“Go home and rest,” Khan told supporters, “You have to return to Islamabad tomorrow to celebrate thanksgiving at Parade Ground.”
“I am elated that the investigation into Nawaz Sharif’s [alleged corruption] will begin day after tomorrow.”
November 7: PML-N files Qatari letter in the Supreme Court
The letter states that Hamad’s father — Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani — had “longstanding business relations with Mian Mohammad Sharif” — Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s father — “which were coordinated through my eldest brother”. In the year 1980, “Mian Sharif expressed his desire to invest a certain amount of money in real estate business of Al Thani family in Qatar,” the document said.
“I understood at that time, that an aggregate sum of around Dirhams 12 million was contributed by Mian Sharif, originating from the sale of business in Dubai,” the document said, adding that four flats: 16, 16A, 17 and 17A Avenfield House, Park Lane, London, were registered under the ownership of two offshore companies, while their bearer share certificates were kept in Qatar. “These were purchased from the proceeds of the real estate business,” the document claimed.
It went on to explain that “on account of [the] relationship between the families, Mian Sharif and his family used the properties whilst bearing all expenses relating to the properties, including the ground rent and service charges”.
Observing the letter Justice Khosa said “This document has completely changed the public stand of the prime minister.”
“This is all hearsay,” said Justice Khosa.
November 14: PTI submitted evidence relating to the Panama Papers case against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in SC.
The documents purportedly demonstrated how the Sharif family allegedly laundered their money and purchased property in 1998.
The evidence includes an April 10, 2000 Guardian article titled ‘Sharif set for grilling on wealth’ as well as an April 5, 2016 article, headlined ‘Pakistani PM’s children raised £7m against UK flats owned offshore’; Maryam Nawaz’s comments from a television talk show, different press clippings, Chaudhry Nisar’s statement about the Mayfair flats from Aug 12, 2012; Siddiq-ul-Farooq’s statement also about the Mayfair flats, an FIA letter regarding M/s Nescoll Ltd, different land registries, reports and financial statements of various companies, Maryam Nawaz’s Form A for the year 2012-13 under the Punjab Agricultural Income Tax Act 1997 and a book called ‘Raiwind Sazish’ by journalist Asad Kharal.
December 19: Panamagate hearing adjourned as Chief Justice takes retirement.
The court had to adjourn the proceedings to the first week of January because the Chief Justice reached superannuation on Dec 30 and was not due to hold court after Dec 15 when a farewell full court reference was scheduled to be held for him.
January 6, 2017: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz submitted her reply in the Supreme Court which included five-year details of her income.
Senior lawyer Salman Akram Raja appeared on behalf of Maryam Nawaz in the court and presented her answer in front of the bench led by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Azmat Saeed, Justice Ijaz Afzal, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Ijaz-ul-Hasan as its members.
“I am not a beneficiary of Sharif familys property,” claimed Maryam Nawaz while terming herself as a trustee and signatory of the companies only. She said that she was made the trustee of the companies, so that in case of the death of the current trust she could run the affairs of the trust in the future.
She said that there were five houses in the Raiwand estate. In the first house her grandmother Shamim Akhtar lived. In the second house her parents, the Prime Minister and the first lady, lived. The third house was occupied by her late uncle Abbas Sharif’s family. The fourth house was used by CM Punjab Shehbaz Sharif, and the fifth house is occupied by Maryam Nawaz.
She said that Mayfair flats are owned by her brother Hussain Nawaz while also terming the documents pertaining to Nescol Company as forged.
Maryam Nawaz said that her signatures on documents of Nescol Company are also fake.
The reply further stated that shares of offshore companies were issued to Hussain Nawaz on July 4, 2006. She said that Hussain Nawaz had provided information about the offer of Al-Sani family in 2005 after which settlements were carried out in June 2016.
January 27: Money trail of Mayfair flats in London submitted before the apex court.
February 23: SC reserves judgement for indefinite period as ‘arguments’ end.
After both the defence and prosecution completed their arguments, the Supreme Court said it would reserve its verdict on the Panamagate case and issue a detailed judgement.
April 18: SC finally announces the day of verdict
The Supreme Court of Pakistan will announce its verdict in Panamagate case on April 20, Thursday, at 2:00pm, confirmed the supplementary cause list released by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.