The joint investigation team (JIT) probing allegations of money laundering against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family submitted its inquiry report on the Panamagate case to the Supreme Court on Monday — within the 60 days it was given to do so amid speculations it might seek extension.
The report consists of the statements of PM Sharif; Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif; the PM’s children Hussain, Hassan and Maryam Nawaz Sharif; son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar; PM’s cousin Tariq Shafi; friend Javed Kayani and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is the father-in-law of the PM’s younger daughter, among other evidence.
The case reportedly hinges on two parallel money trails for the Sharif family’s apartments in London’s upscale Park Lane neighborhood: one based on then FIA Director Rehman Malik’s investigation decades ago, and the other provided by PM’s elder son Hussain Nawaz to the apex court.
The Rehman Malik investigation of 1998 connected the purchase of the London properties with alleged money laundering.
The second money trail ─ a ‘forced confession’ of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case ─ is also being used to establish a case against the Sharif family.
Dar had claimed after his appearance at the JIT’s headquarters at the Federal Judicial Academy last month that the statement submitted before a magistrate on April 25, 2000 was not ‘written by his hand’.
The statement had alleged that Sharif brothers used the Hudaibiya Paper Mills as a cover for money laundering during the late 1990s.
This was why the JIT summoned almost all important characters named in both the Rehman Malik report and Dar’s ‘confession’.
However, the Sharif family’s prime defense 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.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, submitted two letters to the SC during the Panamagate case, which sought to explain the Sharif family’s businesses in Qatar and dovetails Hussain Nawaz statements.
Therefore, it is being assumed that the JIT will not consider the money trail provided by Hussain Nawaz, who was summoned by the JIT six times and examined for around 30 hours in all.
A crucial question now therefore is whether the top court will accept a report minus the prince’s testimony, wrote Dawn.
A three-judge implementation bench of the top court headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan will examine findings of the six-member inquiry panel.
The leadership of the ruling PML-N is said to be visibly unhappy with this development, and makes no secret of its disdain for the report.
Top PML-N leaders had made it clear during a press conference last week that the ruling party would not accept the findings of the JIT if the statements of the former Qatari prime minister were not made part of the report.
On Sunday, according to the Express Tribune, 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, report ET.