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JIT says PM couldn’t ‘satisfactorily answer most of the questions’

JIT says PM couldn’t ‘satisfactorily answer most of the questions’

Updated July 12, 2017

In this file photo, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears after his nearly three-hour session with the Joint Investigation Team on June 15.
In this file photo, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears after his nearly three-hour session with the Joint Investigation Team on June 15.
 

KARACHI: The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing money laundering allegations found Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “could not satisfactorily answer most of the questions” during his appearance on June 15.

The JIT report, submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday, said he was “evasive, speculative and non-cooperative”.

“He was generally evasive and seemed preoccupied during the interview,” the report said. “Major part of his statement was based on ‘hearsay’. He remained non-committal, speculative and at times non-cooperative while recording his statement before the JIT,” said the team’s analysis of the prime minister’s statement.

Editorial: 

From JIT to NAB

 

It went on to say that Prime Minister Sharif tried to “parry most of the questions” by giving indefinite answers or by stating that “he does not remember, ostensibly to conceal facts”.

Sharif insists his assets reflected in income tax returns, wealth statements

In his statement to the JIT, the prime minister gave details of his early life, his entry into politics and the offices he held during his three-decade-long political career.

He claimed that the assets he owned, possessed or had acquired “are, in their entirety, reflected in my income tax returns and wealth reconciliation statements”.

“I do not own or possess, nor have acquired any assets or interests therein other than those mentioned in my income tax returns and wealth reconciliation statements,” he stated.

He, however, informed the JIT that initially, he had been a shareholder and/or director in one or more companies established by his late father in Pakistan. But for about three decades “I have not been the director in any of those companies. In any case, I have not been actively involved in the business of any of those companies since 1985”.

“I became finance minister in 1981. I was not overseeing any businesses myself after 1981, although I may have been the director of some companies. I, however, disassociated myself from all businesses in 1998,” he said, adding: “As far as the meaning of disassociation from business is concerned, it is true that it is more in terms of disassociation from any management function, rather than in terms of holding financial interests in a company. After all, how can you make a living if you disassociate yourself from the financial interest…”

London apartments

Talking about the London properties, he said he had gone there in 1989 and in the 1990s and stayed in the Avenfield apartments. “I knew Hussain and then Hassan, who were studying in London, were living in those apartments. All the expenses related to their stay were met by the money my father used to send them. I know broadly that we were paying the ground rent, service charges and utilities but do not know whether rent was being paid or not. Hussain was dealing with these issues and he knows the most. I knew it was an arrangement made by Mr Al Thani and my father. I do not, however, know about how the bearer certificates were transferred.”

Mr Sharif informed the JIT that he did not refer to the investment between the Qatari family and his father in his speeches but clearly said that he would tell the details when the time came.

About a Guardian report that quoted his wife as saying that the Avenfield apartments were purchased for Hassan and Hussain in 2000 while they were studying in London, “my response is that sometimes these things are said because of lack of knowledge”, he said.

Regarding a huge sum of money gifted to him by his son Hussain, he said in the statement: “I do not find any issue with the fact that my son Hussain sends me money as gifts which I either spend myself or gift it to my daughter Maryam. It is foreign exchange coming into Pakistan and the money was sent through the official banking channels.”

Following are the questions asked by the JIT and the prime minister’s answers.

Q: In your speeches, you had mentioned that all record relating to Azizia and Gulf Steel was available but later your counsel stated in the Supreme Court that no such record was available. Can you explain this contradiction?

A: I am not sure, maybe I had given the record to the speaker, but I am not sure about this.

Q: You have stated that you stand by whatever respondents 6, 7 and 8 have submitted before the Supreme Court of Pakistan during the proceedings of the case about Gulf Steel and Azizia etc. Did you personally see what they have submitted before the Supreme Court of Pakistan or your knowledge is based on family discussions?

A: I had not seen the submissions, my knowledge is based on the family discussions but I endorse whatever has been submitted by them.

Q: Do you have any other documents that you want to produce in addition to the ones you have brought today?

A: There are no further documents to be produced. We have already provided all the documents we had.

Q: In 1999, the Queens Bench Division had put a caution on the Avenfield properties which was removed on the basis of a settlement. What is your knowledge about the terms of the settlement?

A: I have heard about it but I do not know about the terms of the settlement.

Q: You had referred to the settlement of family assets in 2005. Was the matter of investment of proceeds of Gulf Steel discussed especially with regards to the Avenfield properties?

A: Yes, perhaps it was discussed and since they had remained in the possession of Hassan and Hussain. I think Hassan is the owner but I’m not sure.

Q: Hussain claims to own the apartments now but practically Hassan has lived in one of the apartments for decades now. Don’t you find this a bit odd?

A: It is not unusual for brothers.

Q: Do you know about the trust deed signed between Mr Hussain Nawaz Sharif and Ms Maryam Nawaz Sharif with reference to the companies of Mr Hussain?

A: I have no knowledge of the trust deed signed by Mr Hussain Nawaz Sharif on behalf of Maryam (Nawaz) Safdar.

Q: Do you know Saeed Ahmed of National Bank of Pakistan and did you have any business with him?

A: I know Saeed Ahmed since a very long time but I do not have any business links with him.

Q: Do you know the Qazi family?

A: I do not know them. I meet a lot of people and do not remember them all.

Q: Do you know Sheikh Saeed?

A: Yes, I know him since a long time, but I do not have any business relationship with him.

Q: A settlement with NAB was carried out on your behalf in 2001-2 for the case of Hudabiya papers mills and payment were made through loans taken from Chaudhry and Ramzan mills. Please apprise us with the details of this settlement.

A: I do not know if there was a loan. I do not have any knowledge of this matter.

Q: Did you send any money abroad to any of your family members?

A: No I did not.

Q: Was a portion of the money received from Hill Metals used for political funding?

A: No, but if I did, is it a crime?

Q: Would it not come under foreign funding?

No reply was made.

Reference

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2017

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WHAT A JOKE — RECORD OF PROPERTY BOUGHT IN 2006 WAS LOST DURING 1999 MARTIAL LAW!

Panamagate: No record for Sharifs’ past business dealings, counsel tells Supreme Court

HASEEB BHATTI 

in DAWN, Pakistan

As the Supreme Court resumed hearing the Panamagate case on Wednesday, Advocate Salman Akram Raja picked up his arguments where he had left them off.

After welcoming Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed — whose sudden illness had forced a suspension in the case’s daily hearings — Raja reminded the court that “this is neither a trial nor the defendant a witness.”

“I will only argue this case based on the evidence present,” Raja, who represents Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, continued.

The record for the Sharif family’s business dealings for the last 40 to 45 years cannot be reproduced, the counsel said, as “it was lost during the 1999 martial law.”

The matter can be sent to relevant departments for inquiry as the Arsalan Iftikhar case determined that trials for cases can be held at corresponding forums, Salman Akram Raja told the court.

“A court has never conducted an independent inquiry in any criminal case,” Raja argued, adding that Article 10 of the Constitution says that every citizen of this country deserves a fair trial and that departments formed under the law should be allowed to do their job.

“There is no charge against the Prime Minister, so there is no charge against his children either,” he continued.

“If we suppose that the PM’s children are his employees, according to the National Accountability Bureau’s laws, then the burden of proof does not fall on the defendants,” Raja argued in court.

“This is not a criminal court, so even if Hassan and Hussain Nawaz are suspected, there is no proof against them,” he added.

There were eight questions that the court posed to the defendants, including the relationship between Mian Mohammad Sharif and the Al Sani family, the shares in Nielsen and Nescoll, and the profits the family gained from them, the counsel recalled.

Lawyer Salman Akbar said that Sharif family has ties with more than one Qatari royal family but he cannot disclose the name of other royal families before the court due to certain reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There were questions about the trust deed as well, and in this hearing, I will answer all these questions,” he told the court.

Justice Khosa advised Raja that he should first finish his arguments before answering the court’s questions.

Moving on to the matter of the London flats, Hussain Nawaz’s counsel argued that the flats were bought by the Al Thani family between 1993 and 1996.

“The Sharif family did not own the flats in 1999, as Hussain Nawaz was given the bearer certificate to the flats by the Al Thani family,” Raja argued. He added that the shares for the flats were given to Minerva Financial Services in 2006.

Upon hearing this argument, Justice Azmat Saeed asked the counsel to provide a paper trail for these transactions, and said, “You have been moving from one point to the other since the beginning, but have failed to provide any evidence in this regard.”

The allegation is that Maryam Nawaz contacted Minerva Holdings, Raja retorted, upon this, the bench asked that evidence should be proved that Hussain Nawaz is the beneficial owner of the offshore companies.

PTI’s new evidence

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) had announced on Tuesday that it would submit three more documents to disprove the stance adopted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, but the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is not convinced.

“We are submitting three more documents — one from PTI chairman Imran Khan that authenticates all previous documents presented by the party, the expert opinion of UK-based lawyers and a document that proves that Maryam Nawaz is the owner of UK-based firms Minerva, Nielson and Nescoll,” PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry told a press conference.

He said that Imran Khan would submit an affidavit stating that all documents previously submitted by the party were credible and authentic.

PML-N MNA Daniyal Aziz told Dawn that PTI’s lawyers had already completed their arguments and submitted all the evidence they had to the apex court. “Once they have completed their arguments, how can they file more documents?”

 

From The Guardian. London Archival Report

Search for the millions Sharif ‘stole’

The investigator Pakistan’s PM could not stop


They tortured Rehman Malik by placing his hands and feet on ice for up to an hour at a time at a ‘safe house’ in Islamabad. Three years on, he still has trouble feeling sensations in his palms and soles from the punishment, meted out in black masks, by Nawaz Sharif’s heavies.His neck, too, bears the painful crick from a year spent in solitary confinement in a tiny cell at Rawalpindi’s Adila jail with a brick wrapped in newspapers for a pillow. Malik, in mortal fear of convicted terrorists and official hatchet men, found his monthly half-hour visit from his seven-year-old son his single comfort.

Three times following his arrest in November 1996 the courts ordered Malik’s release. Each time he was re-arrested on trumped up charges until, after 12 months of humiliation, the Pakistani Supreme Court itself ruled his detention illegal.

Malik’s crime? To have been the deputy head of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Pakistan’s equivalent of the FBI, investigating allegations of massive corruption by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his family, and cronies.

At 46, he was the youngest officer to reach such a senior rank, the equivalent of an army major-general. In a 20-year career, Malik had gained an impressive reputation in the West for anti-terrorist expertise, including investigation of the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing in New York and of Saudi fundamentalist Osama bin Laden. And, after Malik’s inquiries were publicized by The Observer last year, he started a ball rolling which culminated in the coup against Sharif. ‘I have suffered enormously from doing my duty as a civil servant. My friends, family, and colleagues have been harassed. My life has been at risk,’ Malik told The Observer in his first UK interview since fleeing Pakistan for London after an attempt on his life 15 months ago. ‘I am not a politician, but I welcome the army’s action. They have saved Pakistan from someone who was ruining the country. As a career officer, I would like to return to fulfill my official obligations as soon as possible.’

He is also promising further explosive revelations, which will implicate Sharif and senior Muslim League politicians in allegedly creaming off more of the country’s wealth overseas.

Malik’s report last year was painful enough for the deposed Prime Minister, as were the cat-and-mouse tactics by which Malik has been a thorn in his side since. The 200-page report, smuggled into the country on Sharif’s official Jumbo jet, set out a secret web of fake bank accounts and firms in offshore tax havens through which Sharif’s family allegedly siphoned off more than $70 million (£40m) into London property, Swiss investments and banks in New York.

The family, whose empire grew hugely while Sharif was in office, was also accused of defaulting on $120m of state bank loans, a favourite way of milking the public purse.

According to further documents seen by The Observer, however, the revelations appear to be the tip of an iceberg. Following inquiries over the past year, Malik says he has established further channels by which the Sharif family channelled money illegally offshore.

They include $2.74m allegedly deposited in the account of an Essex-based Pakistani family at the Atlas BOT (Bank of Tokyo) Investment Bank in Lahore as security for loans to four Sharif family members. They also include $4.6m deposited at the Al Faysal Investment Bank in Islamabad as security for a loan to Hamza Board Mills, a paper, and forestry firm in the Sharif family’s Ittefaq group.

Among all his amassed wealth, Sharif also appears to have concealed ownership of a Russian-made Ulan helicopter, which he used during election campaigns. The aircraft, worth more than $1m, was bought from an Arab prince, Sheikh Abdul Rehman Bin Nasir Al Thani of Qatar, in November 1996 and registered in Sharif’s name at the Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority, according to official documents obtained by Malik. It was, however, not declared on Sharif’s statutory filing of assets and liabilities to the country’s Election Commission. ‘This was a man who once told me he could not afford a second-hand Mercedes. How then could he buy a helicopter?’ Malik asks.

Most explosive of all, however, is likely to be Malik’s new investigation, which is almost concluded and alleges laundering of more than $100m offshore via a network of UK trusts, Swiss accounts and offshore havens including Liechtenstein.

An Observer investigation has revealed other instances of alleged corruption during Sharif’s last administration:

• In an emergency budget after Pakistan’s nuclear tests last year, import duties on luxury cars were cut from 325 per cent to 125 per cent. A week later they were restored. In between a friend of Sharif imported 80 cars.

• In 1996 senior figures at Bankers Equity Limited, a finance house granted a huge loan, believed to be more than £10m, to close associates of Sharif. Last summer the bank collapsed and several senior managers, including a friend of Sharif’s, were arrested. The loan is outstanding.

• After the 1997 elections the Sharif family and their business concerns were able to reschedule and renegotiate loans worth nearly £100m from eight banks. When ordered by courts to pay some back they surrendered 33 factories. Only one factory was fully operational, the rest closed, out of order, or both.

Sharif, his family, and former Ministers have consistently dismissed the allegations as politically inspired.

Sharif himself is still in ‘preventative custody’, as the army calls it, in a government guesthouse on the outskirts of Islamabad. General Pervez Musharraf, the self-appointed Chief Executive of Pakistan, has not revealed his plans for the man ousted in a coup 10 days ago. Military sources say the evidence is being gathered to put Sharif on trial for corruption and possibly treason.

Sharif’s former residence, the 100-acre Raiwind estate, near the city of Lahore in eastern Pakistan, is widely seen as a symbol of the opulent lifestyle the Sharifs have led since their pursuit of power and wealth began to pay off 15 years ago. Last week The Observer was the first Western newspaper to visit it since Sharif’s fall.

Brand new roads lead out of Lahore, where the Sharifs have two other houses, to the walled 100-acre estate. A turning leads to a helicopter pad and a set of steel gates. Beyond is an open, grassy compound where five houses, all in white-washed villa style, lie in a rough circle around a man-made pond. Each has a huge colonnaded porch sheltering a £20,000 four-wheel drive Jeep. Two of the buildings are partially constructed as is a pool, though a lake stocked with fish is completed. There is a small zoo.

All the houses are similar, with deep red carpets and velvet curtains throughout. Sharif’s own house is distinguished by the number of televisions – the Prime Minister was gadget crazy. Now army machine gunners have replaced the bodyguards who previously watched the compound’s perimeter. And the muzzles of their weapons point in as much as out.

Raiwind is, to the ousted Prime Minister’s critics at least, a symbol of how his administration manipulated government to benefit itself.

According to opposition spokesmen, Sharif has ‘used public office for personal economic gain’. It is corruption, they say, even if it is within the letter of the law.

Soon after coming to power for a second time in February 1997 Sharif declared the Raiwind site to be the ‘Prime Minister’s Camp Office’ – his home away from the capital. The local municipal authority took on the estate’s maintenance at an estimated annual cost of 40 million Pakistani rupees (£500,000) and built a new road for it, while the state has also supplied gas, electricity and a 200-line telephone exchange.

Near Raiwind last week feelings were mixed about Sharif’s fall. Many remain loyal to a man they see as a local boy made good. ‘He has done a lot around here,’ said Ahmadullah Ali, a farmer. ‘He is a good man.’ In the rough and tumble world of Pakistani politics, Sharif may be down, but he still isn’t out.

 Reference Courtesy

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