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July 27, 2017

SC seeks details of Tareen’s offshore company, gifts, sending money abroad

Top Story

July 27, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought details pertaining to the offshore company and trust, established by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader Jehangir Tareen, the mode of sending money for acquiring a trust abroad, details pertaining to the beneficial ownership of the said company, and gifts to children.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umer Ata Bandyal and Justice Faisal Arab heard the petition filed by PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi seeking disqualification of Jehangir Tareen, alleging that he had established offshore companies in the name of his children, shared gifts worth over Rs1.6 billion among family members, and was involved in insider trading in the shares of United Sugar Mills Limited in 2005.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed that on mere assumption and allegations, no lawmaker could be disqualified from the membership of parliament.The court directed Sikandar Bashir Mohmand, counsel for Jehangir Tareen, to provide the details pertaining to the period of creation of the trust and offshore company by Jehangir Tareen, beneficial ownership, volume of investment on which the said company was acquired and the mode of sending money for acquiring the said company abroad besides providing details about how many times he gave funds as gifts to his children from 2002-17.

The court directed the learned counsel that the petitioner had alleged in his petition that his client had established offshore company in the name of his children but he had not disclosed it in the income tax returns.

Sikandar Bashir Mohmand said that he was not going to provide those materials which he was not required to, however, he said he will provide all the details today (Thursday) after seeking instructions from his client.

Earlier, arguing before the court, Azid Nafees, representing the petitioner, Hanif Abbasi, submitted before the court that Jehangir Tareen had violated the Representation of Peoples Act by not fully declaring his offshore holdings in his statement of assets and liabilities filed before the Election Commission of Pakistan, along with his nomination papers for contesting the 2013 general elections.

He submitted that on failing to disclose his assets, Tareen remained no more Sadiq and Ameen and should be disqualified.On the court query, the learned counsel for the petitioner contended that the respondent failed to declare his offshore companies, did not pay agro tax and committed insider trading. Similarly, he submitted that the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) sent a notice to Tareencompanies, did not pay agro tax and committed insider trading. Similarly, he submitted that the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) sent a notice to Tareen over insider trading as well.

Justice Faisal Arab, another member of the bench, observed that every Member of Parliament who is served a notice by the SECP cannot be disqualified just for being served a notice. While Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarked that on mere assumption and leveling allegations an elected member of the Parliament cannot be unseated.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that Tareen did not disclose his offshore company and his London assets, adding that he also did not file agriculture tax. The chief justice questioned as to whether a matter pertaining to disqualification of a law maker could be brought before the apex court without any relevant forum?

  “If today the court was approached for the disqualification of Jehangir Tareen, tomorrow the court could be approached for the disqualification of other Parliamentarians”, the chief justice observed asking the counsel to tell the court about the scope of Article 184(3) of the constitution wherein cases related to public interest are taken up.

The counsel, however, replied that the matter relates to Panama Papers and his case relates to offshore companies that’s why it is relevant.

The learned counsel referred to the respondent’s confessional statement made before the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan regarding United Sugar Mills and JWD Sugar Mills assets and payment of penalty.

The chief justice asked the learned counsel as to how he got the information in this regard, to which the counsel said that he got the information from internet as after the disclosure of Panama Leaks everything is available on internet.

My case is that the respondent being the Director of Sugar Mills did not disclose correct information regarding assets that caused loss to other share holders and such a person cannot be Sadiq and Ameen. He said that Jehangir Tareen himself disclosed to the SECP and deposited the penalty.

“If a person admits his fault and pays the penalty, he is Sadiq while telling the truth,” the chief justice observed adding that after depositing the penalty the matter comes to an end forever. The chief justice further observed that the matter relates to 2005 and after almost 12 years the court has been approached for the disqualification of a law maker.

The counsel contended that the confession of the respondent is sufficient ground for his disqualification for not being Sadiq and Ameen. While referring to a Supreme Court judgment he contended that if a person even enters into plea bargain and deposits the penalty voluntarily, even then he will come under the ambit of Article 62 (1) (f) of the constitution and liable to be disqualified.

The learned counsel informed the court about the income tax returns and the wealth tax returns of the respondent from 2010 to 2015.

He said the aforesaid returns reflect that the respondent has probably gifted to his children Rs1.479 billion in five years. Similarly, he contended that the aforesaid returns also reflect that the respondent has received cash gift of Rs87,500,000 in the year 2010 from his children and also in the year 2015 the respondent  received cash gift of Rs69,750,000.

He requested the court to direct the respondent to provide complete details, along with supporting documents, of the gifts received and given by the respondent since his first assumption of public office till to date.

The chief justice questioned the counsel if someone gives gifts to his children from the legal source of income and the children establish offshore company then what is illegality in the mater.

The counsel contended that the question relates to maintaining benami property. He said Tareen had given Rs1.5 billion gifts and disclosed in a TV interview that he was the owner of foreign properties.

On court query, Sikandar Bashir Mohmand said he would answer all the questions of the court today (Thursday) and seek instructions from his client.

He said that he does not know the name of the company that since 2011 is owned by the children and its taxes are being paid in London adding that it is a trust and Treen had no direct relation with it.

He said the petitioner while seeking disqualification should first bring the proofs and then ask for disqualification of his client. Later, the court adjourned further hearing until today (Thursday).

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