ISLAMABAD: How did the Dubai-based Capital FZE, a company owned by deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son, Hassan, crop up in the Panama case?
It is incorrect that this firm was detected by the Panama Joint Investigation Team (JIT). Rather its name found mention in paragraph 87 of the April 20 note of Justice Ijazul Ahsan for the first time.
It reads there is yet another company under the name and style of Capital FZE, Dubai, presumably registered under the laws of the UAE. Funds also appear to have been routed through this company from time to time by/and on behalf of Hassan. Its real ownership and business is unclear from the record which needs to be explained. No effort has been made on the part of the respondents to answer the questions on the afore-noted matters, it said.
In paragraph 89, the note had said that the affairs of Capital FZE, Dubai, which also need an inquiry. Evidence shall also be collected by the JIT regarding source(s) of funding of Capital FZE; its business activities and role in transfer of funds to different entities owned or controlled by Hassan and Hussain, it directed.
Thus, the judge had ordered the JIT to conduct inquiry into this company as well. Even if this company was mentioned in any miscellaneous application filed by the petitioners, it never got public attention to the extent that the “un-withdrawn salary”/asset/receivable by Nawaz Sharif finally became the ground for disqualification of Nawaz Sharif under article 62(1)(f). No arguments are known to have been given by lawyers of both sides on this company during the previous 126-day proceedings of the Supreme Court.
However, it is clear from the JIT report that it brought documents from the UAE to show that Nawaz Sharif was the chairman of the board of the Capital FZE.
A certificate with the subject “to whom it may concern” dated July 4, 2017, issued by the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA), signed by Shehab Sultan Mesmar, SVP, Administrative Services, said that this is to certify that Nawaz Sharif, holder of Pakistan passport BV5128361 was employed by Capital FZE as a Chairman of The Board from 7 August, 2006 until 20 April, 2014. The respective salary details per calendar month are as follows: Basic Salary: 10000 AED, Accommodation: Yes; Transportation: Yes, Food: Yes. This letter has been issued upon request and without any legal liabilities in Jafza.
According to the July 28 additional judgment, the petitioners’ lawyer held the view that Nawaz Sharif’s failure to disclose his assets deposited in his account on account of his being Chairman of Capital FZE would also call for his disqualification, as it being an asset for all legal and practical purposes was required to be disclosed under Section 12(2)(f) of the Representation of the People Act (ROPA), 1976; that he denied withdrawal of salary, but payment of salaries to all employees electronically through the Wage Protection System, under Ministerial Resolution No. (788) for 2009 on Wage Protection used by UAE Ministry of Labour and Rules 11(6) and 11(7) of the Jebel Ali Free Zone Rules, would belie his stance.
The verdict said when the bench confronted Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer whether he has ever acquired work permit (Iqama) in Dubai, remained Chairman of the Board of Capital FZE and was entitled to salary as such, his reply was in the affirmative with the only addition that he never withdrew any salary. It stated that this admission was reiterated in more categorical terms in the written arguments filed by the lawyer in these words: So far as Nawaz Sharif’s designation as Chairman of the Board is concerned, this was only a ceremonial office acquired in 2007 when he was in exile, and had nothing to do with the running of the company or supervising its affairs. Similarly, the Nawaz Sharif did not withdraw the salary of AED 10,000. Thus, the salary shown in the Employment Contract in effect never constituted an “asset” for him.
The judgment said that it has not been denied that Nawaz Sharif being Chairman of the Board of Capital FZE was entitled to salary, therefore, the statement that he did not withdraw it would not prevent the un-withdrawn salary from being receivable, hence an asset. When the un-withdrawn salary as being receivable is an asset it was required to be disclosed by Nawaz Sharif in his nomination papers for the Elections of 2013 in terms of Section 12(2)(f) of the ROPA. While Nawaz Sharif did not disclose this asset, it would amount to furnishing a false declaration on solemn affirmation in violation of the law, therefore, he is not honest in terms of Section 99(1)(f) of the ROPA and Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, the decision said.