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October 25, 2017
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Tareen disqualification case: Honesty real question, technical points not to become hindrance, says CJP

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October 25, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday asked Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Jahangir Tareen to produce the money trail for his 12-acre residence in the United Kingdom (UK). The court asked Sikandar Bashir Mohmand, counsel for Jahangir Tareen, to explain how the money was sent to the UK.

A three-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab, heard the case filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Hanif Abbasi seeking the disqualification of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and the Secretary General Jahangir Tareen over non-disclosure of assets, existence of offshore companies as well as the PTI being a foreign-aided party.

The chief justice remarked that the real purpose of these proceedings is to judge the honesty, therefore, Jahangir Tareen would have to inform the court how the money to buy this property was acquired. He said the court will not let technical points hinder the process of justice. 

The house was bought for 2.1 million pounds while an agreement for the construction of the house was worth 2.5 million pounds. The property belongs to offshore company SVL (Shiny View Limited), which is now owned by a Trust, said Tareen’s lawyer. He argued that he is now not the legal owner and the trust is owned by his children. He said that Trust was registered on April 27, 2011. 

He said that the documents for the trust and statements of Tareen's children would be provided to the court, but should not be made public. The court, however, said that it had the powers to ask for any documents it deemed suitable and the lawyer should tell the court why they should be kept secret.

Sikandar Mohmand said that a residential plot worth 2 million pounds was bought through the company and a loan was obtained for its construction by offering the property as collateral. He said that the company conducts no business activities and Tareen does not have any assets in either the trust or the offshore company.

When asked if Tareen pays off the loan, Mohmand responded that the offshore company pays it back while Tareen funds it via the trust. The chief justice asked the court wants to see when and how the funds for the company were sent.

Justice Faisal Arab observed that a public office holder has made a trust using allegedly unlawful funds and does not show them as his assets. To this, Tareen's counsel responded that making a trust and buying a company is legal.

He stated that not even Tareen's children own the house in question. Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that Tareen needed to show that he had no control over Shiny View Limited and his directives were not binding on the company.

He asked the counsel who sends the money to the offshore company? He said that Tareen made a house for his children but they are not its beneficial owners and that they can only live in the house but cannot sell the asset.

He observed that Tareen trusted a foreign bank's representatives instead of his own children. Justice Faisal Arab remarked that a trust like this is a camouflage for hiding assets. Justice Bandial remarked that Jahangir Tareen did not list it as an asset in his nomination papers before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Mohmand clarified that Tareen sent his lawful income abroad and that the trust and the company were declared in his children's statements. Justice Bandial asked did the tax authorities have access to the amount, transferred to buy property.

Mohmand said that a foreign currency account is fully protected under the law. Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that it was beyond his comprehension that Jahangir Tareen created a trust for his children but does not have faith in them to run it.

Justice Fasial Arab remarked that it has been admitted that Jahangir Tareen did not disclose this property in his nomination papers. It is a general practice that people send illegal money abroad to purchase property in the name of a trust, he added.

On this, Sikandar Mohmand said that his client had sent the money through a banking channel which was earned legally. He said that his client had deposited funds in a trust from money earned from Pakistan. The court asked Mohmand to explain the process for purchasing property abroad.

Mohmand replied that the first step is to form a trust after which a company is formed under the trust to purchase the property. The chief justice remarked that things don’t remain the same in Pakistan. Things may change tomorrow from how they are today, he added.

Tareen's counsel also argued that the trust deed is a secret and cannot be shared to which the court responded that the counsel had said initially that he will share all the details of the case. The bench observed that the court has to be satisfied that Tareen has no control of the London property.

During hearing of the case, Sikandar Mohmand said that the Lahore High Court had referred back tax matters of Jahangir Tareen to Appellate Authority and the Authority announced decision without hearing his client. The LHC annulled Appellate Authority’s decision and ordered fresh inquiry into the case, he added.

The hearing was then adjourned until Wednesday when Mohmand said he will furnish further details regarding the amount remitted outside the country by Tareen to satisfy the court's query.

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