Panamagate hearing: PM’s children submit replies

ISLAMABAD: In compliance with the Supreme Court (SC) order, the written replies of Maryam, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz were submitted before a five-member bench of the apex court on Monday.

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The SC directed all parties to submit documentary evidence before the court by Nov 15. The case was adjourned till Nov 15.

During today’s hearing, the government sought 15 days to submit the required documents, but the court ordered the PM’s counsel to submit evidence within seven days, saying that the court wants to conclude the case as soon as possible.

The apex court had last week ordered the Sharif family’s counsel Salman Aslam Butt to submit the replies of the remaining respondents: Maryam, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz before 9:30am on Monday (today) as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and retired Capt Mohammad Safdar, son-in-law of Mr Sharif, had already submitted their replies.

During the least hearing, the top court asked all parties to present proposals on how to regulate its proceedings, so that it could pass a binding order on Monday regarding the appointment of a one-man commission, to be headed by a judge of the SC.

The court also asked all parties to present proposals on how to regulate its proceedings, so that it could pass a binding order on Monday regarding the appointment of a one-man commission, to be headed by a judge of the Supreme Court. The court also directed the parties to submit their respective terms of reference (ToR) positively by Thursday. But the bench reiterated that it would not be bound by the ToR submitted by any party.

PM’s reply

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif formally denied being the beneficial owner of any offshore entity.

In a 15-page reply, the prime minister asked the court to dismiss the petitions, claiming that he was not the owner or legal beneficiary of any offshore properties or any other entities, including the four flats in Avenfield House, Park Lane, London.

Similarly, his name had never appeared in the Panama Papers, nor have any accusations been made against him in the leaks, the rejoinder said. It added that he was the regular tax payer who filed tax returns as well as a wealth statement. The entire income, assets and liabilities of the prime minister were duly declared in the tax returns and wealth tax statements.

The entire income, assets and liabilities of the prime minister as well as his spouse were duly declared in the nomination forms for the 2013 general elections as well as the statement of assets and liabilities filed with ECP.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and retired Capt Mohammad Safdar also submitted their replies, asking that the petitions be dismissed.

Govt’s ToR
Capt Safdar, had filed ToR on Thursday suggesting that the proposed commission should examine information relating to involvement of Pakistani citizens, persons of Pakistan origin and legal entities in offshore companies in Panama or any other country and determine if any law in force for the time being had been infringed and, if so, fix responsibility for such infringement.

The commission should also determine if the provisions of laws relating to income tax, wealth tax, foreign exchange, companies and elections in force at the relevant time have been infringed with regard to properties held by offshore companies, source of income utilised to purchase properties, tax payable or paid on the income and details of the sellers of the properties.

The proposed commission, the ToR said, should examine information relating to written-off bank loans, including the report on such loans of a commission earlier set up by the Supreme Court, as well as other cases of loans written off after the period covered by the commission by former or present holders of the public office.

PTI’s ToRs
The PTI requested the SC to investigate when Messrs Nescoll Limited and Messrs Nielson Enterprises Ltd, British Virgin Island, were set up and who were the original recorded beneficial owners of these companies.

The PTI ToR asked when Maryam Nawaz, daughter of the prime minister, become beneficial owner of these two companies. The party wanted the commission to probe at what price Flat No 17, Flat 16 and 16-A and Flat No 17-A was purchased and how was the amount transferred out of Pakistan or from any other country and what was the source of this foreign exchange. It also wanted to know about the amount of income tax paid by Nawaz Sharif from tax year 1981-82 till July 23, 1996.

PTI recalled that the PM had asserted that since Ittefaq Foundry had been nationalised in 1972, his father went to Dubai to set up a steel mill which was sold in April 1980 for $9m. If the foreign exchange had not been transferred out of Pakistan, what was the source of funds for setting up the mill and to whom it was sold and what was the share of the prime minister from it. Was any wealth tax paid on this amount?

The ToR asked about the Azizia Steel Mills in Jeddah which was allegedly sold in June 2005 for $17m. Whether the prime minister upon his return to Pakistan declared his share in any tax return, it wondered.

The ToR also asked about the remittance from Hussain Nawaz. The ToR asked about the status of different references in NAB and outstanding liabilities of the Sharif Group of Companies borrowed from 31 banks and DFIs.

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