Panamagate case: PM did not conceal any assets

A day after the Supreme Court (SC) pointedly inquired about PM Nawaz Sharif’s money trail, the premier’s counsel reiterated that his client had presented details of all his assets to the joint investigation team (JIT) that was mandated to probe allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family.

Senior counsel Khawaja Harris told the three-member apex bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, that the prime minister had provided details of all assets and sources of income in the form of tax returns.

In reference to the judges’ observation that the PM had remained evasive in answering the questions put forward by the JIT, Harris said that the team had not inquired about any other properties, maintaining that his client had not concealed any assets, nor did he own any benami properties.

Harris argued that according to the laws of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), “an individual cannot be held accountable for the properties and assets that are in the name of his wife and children.” He added that the PM’s relatives had also not concealed any assets.

During Tuesday’s hearing, the apex bench had asked about the PM’s money trail, saying, “We’ve been waiting for it since day one.” The prime minister and his family members had remained evasive in answering the questions put forward by the JIT, added the judges.

The bench had reminded the PM’s lawyer that the onus of establishing a money trail after claiming ownership of the Avenfield flats was on the Sharif family, adding that the money trail of the flats “remained shrouded in mystery — even to this day.”

The apex bench had also asked the counsel point-blank whether the judges should form their own opinion over the concealment of facts by his client or refer the matter to an accountability court.

Harris had argued that the JIT had exceeded its mandate by recommending the SC to reopen 15 cases against his client. He also questioned the authenticity of the documents obtained from the UK and the UAE that were included in the JIT’s report.

The bench had resumed the Panamagate case on Monday, nearly three months after ordering the formation of a JIT to investigate the allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family.

Presenting his statement before the bench on Monday, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) lead counsel Naeem Bokhari had requested that PM Nawaz Sharif should be asked to come to the court for questioning. During his arguments, Bokhari highlighted several findings of the JIT report that he said “incriminate” the Sharif family.

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