Monday June 17, 2024

Sharif family assets more than income: JIT

By Sohail Khan
July 11, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted for probing the allegations of financial irregularities and money laundering by the Sharif family has recommended filing of a reference, through the NAB, against Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his family after disparities were found between their known source of income and the actual wealth.

The six-member JIT, headed by Wajid Zia, submitted its final report to the three-member implementation bench on the Panama verdict on Monday, suggesting filing of a reference against the premier and his children. The findings also confirmed Maryam Nawaz Sharif as the real and beneficial owner of the BVI Companies namely Nielsen Enterprises Limited and Nescol Limited and owner of Avenfield properties in 2012 and before.

The JIT also confirmed that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was the chairman of offshore company, FZE Capital, located in Jebel Ali, Dubai.

The JIT is compelled to refer to Section 9 (a) (v) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, say the findings. “A holder of a public office, or any other person, is said to commit or to have committed corruption and corrupt practices:- (v) if he or any of his dependents or benamidars owns, possess, or has acquired right or title in any asset or holds irrevocable power of attorney in respects of any assets or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, which he cannot reasonably account for or maintains a standard of ASSETS beyond that which is commensurate with his sources of income—-“

Section 14 (c) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999:

“In any trial of an offence punishable under clause (v) of sub-section (a) of Section 9 of this Ordinance, the fact that the accused person or any other person on his behalf, is in possession for which the accused person cannot satisfactorily account, of assets or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, or that such person has, at or about the time of the commission of the offence with which he is charged, obtained an accretion to his pecuniary resources or property for which he cannot is satisfactorily account, the Court shall presume, unless the contrary is proved, that the accused person is guilty of the offence of corruption and corrupt practices and his conviction therefore shall not be invalid by reason only that it is based solely on such presumption.”

The court was informed that the Qanun-e-Shahadat Order, 1984 and the following provision are also relevant: Article 122 of the Qanun-e-Shahadat Order.1984:

“122. Burden of proving fact especially within knowledge. When any fact is especially within the knowledge of any person the burden of proving that fact is upon him.

Article 117 of Qanun-e-Shahadat Order, 1984:

“117. Burden of proof. (1) Whoever desires any Court to give judgment as to any legal right or liability depended on the existence of fact which he asserts, must prove that those facts exist.

(2) When a person is bound to prove the existence of any fact, it is said that the burden of proof lies on that person.”

Article 129 of the Qanun-e-Shahadat Order, 1984:

“129. Court may presume existence of certain facts. The Court may presume the existence of any fact, which it thinks likely to have happened regards being had to the common course of natural events, human conduct and public and private business, in their relation to the fact of the particular case.

Article 2(4), (7) and (8) of the Qanun-e-Shahadat Order, 1984:

“Significant gap/disparity among the known and declared sources of income and the wealth accumulated by the Respondents No. 1, 6, 7 and 8 has been observed,” the JIT submitted.

As per the case, Nawaz Sharif was respondent No 1, Maryam Nawaz Sharif respondent No 6 while Hussain and Hassan Nawaz were respondents No 7 and 8 respectively.

The findings also confirmed Maryam Nawaz Sharif as the beneficial owner of BVI Companies namely Nielsen Enterprizes Limited and Nescol Limited by the financial investigation Agency, British Virgin Island.

However, in the light of authentication/verification letters of Mr Errol George, Director FIA, BRITISH Virgin Islands) and advocate general of BVI it can be conclusively stated that Ms Mariam Safdar was (and probably still is) the real and ultimate beneficial owner of Avenfield properties through the ownership of M/s Nielson Enterprise Limited and M/S Nescol Limited (BVI Companies) and the claim of Ms Maryam Safdar being the trustee was an attempt to mislead the Supreme Court of Pakistan by presenting a falsified evidence.

The court was informed that Hussain Nawaz Sharif who claims to be ultimate beneficial owner of M/s Nielson Enterprise Limited and M/S Nescoll Limited (owners of the properties) did not produce any document proving the said companies/properties despite repeated demand by the JIT.

The JIT submitted that Maryam Safdar had submitted fake/falsified documents to it which was a criminal offence and these documents were decoys to manipulate facts and camouflage the truth.

Hussain Nawaz and Captain (Retd) Safdar as well as Maryam Safdar also signed these falsified and misleading documents.

Hassan Nawaz Sharif having submitted these documents as respondent No 8 is also prima facie involved in manipulating and misleading the honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan, the JIT added.

In the report, respondent 1 refers to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, respondent 6 to Maryam Nawaz, respondent 7 to Hussain Nawaz and respondent 8 to Hasan Nawaz.

“The financial structure and health of the companies in Pakistan having linkages to the respondents also do not substantiate their wealth,” the JIT submitted.

As per the afore-stated detailed analysis, significant gap/disparity amongst the known and declared source of income and the wealth accumulated by respondent No. 1, 6 , 7 and 8 have been observed, say the JIT findings.

It was revealed that the financial structure and health of companies in Pakistan having linkage to the respondents also do not substantiate the wealth declared by the respondents and there exists a significant disparity between the wealth declared by the respondent and the means though which the respondent had generated income from known/declared sources.

Moreover, the JIT maintained that irregular movement of huge amounts in shape of loans and gifts from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-based company (Hill Metals Establishment), United Kingdom-based company (Flagship Investments Limited and others), and United Arab Emirates-based company (Capital FZE) to respondent no. 1, respondent no. 7 and Pakistan-based company of respondent No. 1 and family have been highlighted.

The court was informed that the role of offshore companies was important as several offshore companies (Nescoll Limited, Nielsen Enterprises Limited, Alanna Services Limited, Lamkin S.A., Coomber Group Inc., Hiltern International Limited) have been identified to be linked with their businesses in the UK while conducting this investigation.

These companies were mainly used for inflow of funds into UK based companies, which not only acquired expensive properties in UK from such funds but also revolved these funds amongst their companies in the UK, KSA, UAE and Pakistan, say the JIT findings.

In addition to the companies, the JIT submitted that respondents No. 1 and 7 had been found to be recipients of these funds moved into Pakistan as gifts/loan whose purpose/reason have not justified by them before the JIT.

Needless to say, these UK companies were loss-making entities with heavily engaged in revolving of funds vis-à-vis creating a smokescreen that the expensive properties of UK were due to the business operations of these companies.

The JIT further revealed that Qatari prince Hamad Al Thani despite best efforts of the JIT chose to delay his responses or sideline the issue of recording of statement by first refusing to give a statement and then accepting it and asking for a date and then raising the legal issue of jurisdiction of Pakistani courts and finally sending his response at the last moment without acceding to the jurisdiction of Pakistan law and courts, that too, when the JIT had already started preparing its final report.

This whole episode of avoidance to record his statement and delay it to the extent that the time given by the Supreme Court of Pakistan practically expires can only be seen as a tactical move to keep the defense of the respondents alive, the JIT alleged.

The court was informed that the JIT in its investigation has collected sufficient evidence in this section and elsewhere in the report to conclude that the appearance or non-appearance of Mr. Thani was not as significant as was assessed earlier.It has been proved that Tariq Shafi never handed AED 12 million to the father of Hamad Al Thani and hence no question of any investment in Qatari business and proceeds thereto.