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Book Nawaz Sharif and sons for corruption, recommends JIT

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, with his son Hussain Nawaz, in Islamabad

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, with his son Hussain Nawaz, in Islamabad   | Photo Credit: AP

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The Prime Minister has been denying any wrongdoing since his name appeared in the Panama Papers last year.  

A joint investigation team (JIT) tasked with investigating the assets of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family has recommended that a a corruption case be registered against Mr. Sharif , his sons Hussain and Hassan, and daughter Maryam.

“Failure on the part of all respondents [Nawaz Sharif and children] to produce the requisite information confirming ‘known sources of income’ is prima facie tantamount to not being able to justify assets and means of income,” said the report.

The damning report also claimed that a significantdisparity existed between the known and declared sources of income and the wealth accumulated by the Sharifs.

“The financial structure and health of companies in Pakistan having linkage to the Respondents also do not substantiate the wealth of the Respondents,” it said, going on to say: “The role of off-shore companies is critically important as several offshore companies... have been identified to be linked with their businesses in U.K. while conducting this investigation. These companies were mainly used for inflow of funds into U.K.-based companies; which not only acquired expensive properties in U.K. from such funds but also revolve these funds amongst their companies of U.K., KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], UAE and Pakistan.”

The probe team said the companies owned by the Sharifs in Britain were loss-making entities, which heavily engaged in revolving of funds. They were used to justify the ownership of these expensive properties.

Maryam, who was widely tipped to succeed her father in the future, had earlier claimed that she was only a trustee owner of the offshore companies. bSut the JIT claimed that she turned out to be the beneficial owner.

Opposition parties immediately demanded the Prime Minister’s resignation. Pakistan Tehree-e-Insasf leader Imran Khan said Mr. Sharif had lost moral authority and should step down. “He is now proven to be a culprit. No one will accept his authority,” he told reporters in Islamabad.

The JIT has recommended that the National Accountability Bureau should register a case against the Sharifs and prepare a corruption reference.

The government rejected the report by terming it as mere stack of papers. “The allegations are not new. Supreme Court tasked the JIT to answer 13 questions but JIT went overboard. Our lawyers are examining the report and will give a detailed reply later,” Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal who is close aide of Nawaz Sharif said in a press conference.

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He also rejected calls for Prime Minister Sharif’s resignation.

A six-member Joint Investigation Team probing the assets of the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif submitted its report in the Supreme Court after 60 days of investigations.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court ordered registration of a case against the chief of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan for tempering the record of Sharif family business. The court has also slapped a contempt notice on a reporter of English daily for contacting a judge on his report and misreporting the facts on JIT probe.

In a series of developments that could spell more trouble for the Prime Minister who had been denying any wrong doing since his name appeared in Panama Papers last year, the apex court ordered registration of FIR against SECP chairman Zafar Hijazi. A probe by Federal Investigation Agency concluded that he tempered with the record of Sharifs business empire. The court also slapped a contempt notice on the printer publisher and reporter of largest media group Jang for misreporting. Opposition parties alleged that Jang group has printed several stories to favor government which were factually incorrect.

Although Sharif had won a 3-2 split verdict in April this year but the apex court constituted a JIT to conduct fresh investigations into Sharif family assets.

The assets in question are four multi million pounds expensive flats in Park Lane London which according to Panama papers were purchased through off shore companies Nielson and Nescol but hidden from tax authorities in Pakistan.

The case was first reported by British media in 1996 when it claimed that the flats were purchased through money laundered by the Sharif family. A case was made by the government of slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto against Nawaz Sharif but it was not pursued when Sharif returned to power in 1997.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court took up the case on the petitions of opposition parties including Imran Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaf and others who sought disqualification of Nawaz Sharif for not declaring the money trail. The court ordered the JIT to probe the money trail. JIT on Monday filed its investigations.

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Printable version | Nov 21, 2019 10:20:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/corruption-case-must-be-registered-against-shariff-and-sons-recommends-jit/article19251530.ece

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