ISLAMABAD: Noting that the PM’s family’s assets do not match their known income, the joint investigation team (JIT) probing their offshore assets has recommended filing of reference against Nawaz Sharif and his sons with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Members of the high-powered JIT submitted on Monday its fourth and final, 256-page report to the apex court.
“Failure on the part of all Respondents to produce the requisite information confirming “known sources of income’ is prima facie tantamount to not being ablento justify assets and the means of income,” the report read.
After receiving the report, the top court allowed the petitioners and respondents in the case to obtain copy of the report from the apex court’s registrar office.
Directing the counsels of both sides to appear in the court on July 17 (Monday) for further hearing, the three-judge implementation bench directed the government to continue providing security to the JIT members until further orders.
During Monday’s hearing, the bench took strong exception over misreporting about the Panamagate JIT by the Jang Group.
Issuing contempt notices to the media group’s owner Mir Shakeelur Rehman, his brother Javedur Rehman and reporter Ahmad Noorani over false reporting, the court asked why it should not start proceedings against them under Article 204 of the Constitution.
“Misreporting is evident from the news,” Justice Ijazul Ahsen observed.
The bench has summoned the transcript of the speeches of Railways Minister Saad Rafiq, Senator Nihal Hashmi and Asif Karmani regarding the conduct of JIT. It also sought complete detail of advertisements given by the government to different media groups.
Meanwhile, the bench ordered registration of an FIR against Zafar Hijazi, chairman of the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), for his alleged involvement in tampering records of the companies owned by the ruling family.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz said her family submitted all evidence pertaining to the ruling family’s businesses since 1960 to the JIT.
The five-judge bench was split 3-2 while announcing the April 20 verdict, with head judge Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed ruling against the premier in their dissenting notes. Through its final decision, the top court formed a JIT and ordered it to investigate in depth the money trail for the ruling family’s contentious London flats at the heart of the case.
A three-judge bench of the apex court was formed to oversee the implementation of the April 20 verdict. The six-member JIT, headed by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Additional Director General Wajid Zia, was given two months to find out answers to some 13 questions – mainly related to the money trail for the Sharifs’ London properties – and a deadline of July 10 was set by the court.
Apart from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the JIT interrogated some seven members of the Sharif family over the last two months. Nawaz’s elder son Hussain appeared before the panel six times. His younger brother appeared thrice. Other Sharif family members who testified before the JIT included Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, premier’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband Capt (retd) Safdar, and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
However, the Sharif family’s prime defence in the case – Qatari Prince Hamad Bin Jassim bin Jaber al Thani who supported the Sharifs money trail through two separate letters – did not appear before the probe team. A more crucial question, therefore, is whether the top court will accept a report minus the prince’s testimony.
On Sunday, top heads in PML-N came together to map out a plan to wage a battle on both legal and political fronts against the probe panel in a bid to avert any adverse outcome. Low-key meetings between the prime minister and members of his legal team arrived at the decision to challenge the JIT report – in the top court as well as in public – sources in the ruling camp said.