- Hussain admits owning offshore properties
- Maryam submits she’s not beneficiary owner
- Hassan maintains he doesn’t own assets or firms
- Court directs all parties to submit Terms of Reference by November 15
In compliance with the Supreme Court’s (SC) order, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s children submitted their replies in the Panamagate case before a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Monday.
In their written replies, Hussain Nawaz admitted owning offshore properties while Maryam Nawaz claimed she was a trustee and Hassan Nawaz maintained he was involved in a lawful business and did not own assets or companies in London.
The court was told that their father Nawaz Sharif had no involvement in their businesses as well as no connection with their properties in London. It was informed that Hussain had given $1,914,054 to Nawaz Sharif as a gift in 2011 while Nawaz Sharif had given Rs 31,70,000 to Maryam Nawaz and Rs 19,459,440 to Hassan Nawaz as a gift.
Following their replies, the apex court directed all parties to submit relevant documentary evidence before it by November 15 (Tuesday) and adjourned the hearing.
Appearing before the court, the counsel for the prime minister, Salman Aslam Butt, submitted that Hassan Nawaz had been running a business lawfully for the last 22 years and Hussain for 16 years.
He submitted that both Hassan and Hussain had rejected the allegations of corruption brought against them by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan.
The counsel contended that Maryam Nawaz was not dependent on the prime minister, adding that she was only a trustee of Nielsen and Nescoll not the beneficiary owner.
In her reply, Maryam stated that she was not party to companies based in Virgin Islands and that the allegations against her were baseless.
In his remarks, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa observed that the prime minister’s children’s replies did not deny ownership of offshore companies. He said their replies accepted the allegations in Imran Khan’s petition related to ownership of the companies.
The judge directed the Sharif family’s lawyer to convince the court that the money was transferred abroad through legal means. “It is the duty of the owners to convince the Supreme Court after accepting ownership,” he added.
Addressing the Sharif family’s lawyer, Justice Khosa said the prime minister had agreed to step down if the ruling was against him. “We can give a clean chit or rule against the prime minister,” he said, adding that the court would not go into details of the issue or visit Panama.
During the hearing, the government sought 15 days to submit the required documents, but the court ordered the PM’s counsel to submit evidence within seven days, saying the court wanted to conclude the case as soon as possible.
The apex court during a hearing of the case last week asked the PM’s counsel to submit the replies of the PM’s children, and ordered all parties to present proposals on how to regulate its proceedings, so that it could pass a binding order on Monday regarding the appointment of a one-man commission, to be headed by a judge of the SC.
The court also directed the parties to submit their respective terms of reference (ToR) positively by last Thursday. But the bench reiterated that it would not be bound by the ToR submitted by any party.
Notices issued to Imran Khan, Jahangir Tareen
Meanwhile, PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi’s lawyer Akram Shaikh, who had earlier submitted a petition against PTI leaders Imran Khan and Jahangir Tareen, approached the larger bench, requesting them to club his petition along with others in connection with the Panamagate case but the bench refused to do so at this stage.
Later, a two-member SC bench chaired by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali heard the petition filed by PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi and issued notices to PTI leaders Imran Khan and Jahangir Tareen, directing them to submit their replies on applications submitted against them pertaining to allegations of ownership of offshore companies.
The SC directed both the PTI leaders to submit their replies by November 15.
The bench, chaired by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, however rejected the plea of Hanfi Abbasi’s counsel, asking it to club his petition along with those being heard by a five-member bench in connection with the Panama Papers leaks on the grounds of similar nature of allegations.
The bench remarked that a decision would be taken in this regard after the respondent’s reply was submitted.
Maryam doesn’t own any offshore company
Earlier on Thursday, Capt Safdar submitted the government’s Terms of Reference (ToRs) suggesting that the proposed commission should examine information relating to involvement of Pakistani citizens, persons of Pakistan origin and legal entities in offshore companies in Panama or any other country and determine if any law in force for the time being had been infringed and, if so, fix responsibility for such infringement.
The commission should also determine if the provisions of laws relating to income tax, wealth tax, foreign exchange, companies and elections in force at the relevant time have been infringed with regard to properties held by offshore companies, source of income utilised to purchase properties, tax payable or paid on the income and details of the sellers of the properties.
The proposed commission, the ToRs said, should examine information relating to written-off bank loans, including the report on such loans of a commission earlier set up by the Supreme Court, as well as other cases of loans written off after the period covered by the commission by former or present holders of the public office.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had, in his reply to the apex court last week, formally denied being the beneficial owner of any offshore entity.
In a 15-page reply, the prime minister asked the court to dismiss the petitions, claiming that he was not the owner or legal beneficiary of any offshore properties or any other entities, including the four flats in Avenfield House, Park Lane, London.
Similarly, his name had never appeared in the Panama Papers, nor have any accusations been made against him in the leaks, the rejoinder said. It added that he was the regular tax payer who filed tax returns as well as a wealth statement. The entire income, assets and liabilities of the prime minister were duly declared in the tax returns and wealth tax statements.
The entire income, assets and liabilities of the prime minister as well as his spouse were duly declared in the nomination forms for the 2013 general elections as well as the statement of assets and liabilities filed with ECP.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and retired Capt Mohammad Safdar also submitted their replies, asking that the petitions be dismissed.