Panama Papers: probe seeks graft case against Pak PM Sharif

11 July 2017

A Joint Investigation Team mandated by the Pakistan Supreme Court into the 'Panama Papers' scandal has recommended  that a corruption case be filed against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his children after finding "significant" disparities in their income and actual wealth.

Nawaz SharifThe six-member JIT that probed the Sharif family's business dealings, in its report submitted to the apex court on Monday, recommended that a corruption case should be filed against Sharif and his sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, as well as daughter Maryam Nawaz, under the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance 1999.

The Sharif-led government promptly rejected the report as "trash" and vowed to challenge it in the Supreme Court.

Sharif's daughter Maryam, on behalf of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), rejected the report in a tweet.

"JIT report REJECTED. Every contradiction will not only be contested but decimated in Supreme Court. NOT a penny of public exchequer involved," she said.

Imran Khan of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party told the media that the PML-N chief should resign as the country's prime minister.

 "There is no need of further trial or proceedings. He should go away and should be barred from leaving the country along with other family members," he said.

Sharif's close aide and minister for development Ahsan Iqbal in a press conference with other ministers termed the report as "trash" after a consultation meeting held by the prime minister.

"If you review this report, it has no logical argument. Neither did it quote authentic sources nor material, but is based on things that have no authenticity before the law. Therefore, we are rejecting this report, terming it rubbish," he said.

"We not only condemn this report but will completely expose and unveil its contradictions and falsification before the Supreme Court. We will demolish this report," he added.

Iqbal said that the report is based on accusations levelled by Imran Khan and there is nothing new in it.

Zafarullah Khan, a close aide of Sharif, echoed these views: "It is PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) report and not JIT report... It is Imran Nama".

He said that the Supreme Court bench will consign the report to a "trash bin, where it rightfully belongs".

The JIT report said the assets of all four respondents were found to be more than the sources of their income.

"Significant gap / disparity amongst the known and declared sources of income and the wealth accumulated by the Respondent No. 1, 6, 7 and 8 have been observed," the JIT observed in its concluding remarks. Respondent 1 refers to Prime Minister Sharif, Respondent 6 was Maryam, Respondent 7 Hussain, and Respondent 8 Hassan.

The report said the financial structure and health of companies in Pakistan having linkages to the Sharif family also do no substantiate their wealth.

It also highlighted "irregular movement" of huge sums of money in the form "loans and gifts" between Sharif and his youngest son from various companies set up in Saudi Arabia, the UK and the UAE. The report said the role of off-shore companies is critical as they have been identified to be linked with their businesses in UK.

The JIT also said that the Sharifs were unable to provide substantive evidence of a reliable money trail used to buy expensive properties in London.

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