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April 17, 2018

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AC summons record of JIT correspondence with BVI authorities

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court (AC) hearing Avenfield apartments corruption reference on Monday directed the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head Wajid Zia to make a request before the Supreme Court registrar for provision of mutual legal assistance (MLA) record pertaining to the JIT correspondence with the British Virgin Islands (BVI) authorities.

The AC issued this order at the request of Maryam Nawaz and Captain Safdar’s counsel Amjad Pervez advocate who said that he wants to cross-examine Zia on the basis of those documents that the JIT procured from the BVI authorities and also the letters that the JIT wrote to them.

Zia said the JIT had received multiple documents from the BVI that it submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan but did not attach to the JIT report. During Monday’s hearing, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz could not appear before the court as their flight from Lahore was cancelled due to bad weather. Legal counsels on behalf of Nawaz and Maryam filed exemption applications that were allowed. Earlier, the AC judge Muhammad Bashir inquired from Maryam’s counsel that how did he manage to reach here from Lahore, to which he replied that he came by road.

Zia admitted that no accused or witness testified before the JIT that Nielsen and Nescoll bearer shares certificates ever remained in the custody of Maryam. Maryam in her own statement also said that the bearer shares certificates never remained in her custody and this was also confirmed by Hussain Nawaz, Zia said. Zia, however, said that this position was in contradiction with the trust deed which states that she irrevocably and unconditionally possess special purpose vehicle (the bearer shares certificates of Nielsen and Nescoll).

Zia said that when the JIT questioned Hassan Nawaz that whether any member of his family remained beneficial owner of Neilsen and Nescoll from 1994 till 2006, he straight away did not deny, but said that he had no means of knowing about this.

On the other hand, he said, Hussain Nawaz is the beneficial owner of the Nielsen and Nescoll trust. In 2006, the bearer shares certificates of Neilsen and Nescoll were changed into registered shares with Minerva Services Ltd whose management company was Trustee Services Ltd. Zia said that during their investigation, the JIT neither associated Minerva nor Trustee Services into their probe. The JIT also got no evidence that Maryam Nawaz ever paid professional fee to the management companies of Nielsen and Nescoll or ground rent for the flats, admitted Wajid Zia. He, however, said that no such document was provided by any of the accused and the JIT then wrote MLAs to get the documents regarding Avenfield properties, but the MLAs were not responded yet. Talking about the MLAs written to the BVI authorities, Zia said the contents of those MLAs were decided by the JIT members and he used to sign those as head.

“The BVI authorities returned our first MLA saying that it is not in conformity with the BVI laws and then another MLA was sent that received response,” Zia said. Further

hearing in this matter will be held today (Tuesday).

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