Panama case: PM neither director, shareholder nor beneficial owner of any off-shore company: counsel

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A view of Supreme Court building in Islamabad.

ISLAMABAD: The five member bench of the supreme court hearing the Panamagate case, quizzed  the Prime minister’s counsel about a money trail for the London flats and asked to prove there were no inconsistencies in the PM’s speech in the National Assembly last year.

The PM’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan denied that his client had anything to do with the London flats before bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.

Khan argued that the family business was transferred to Nawaz Sharif’s son, Hussain Nawaz after the death of Mian Sharif, the PM’s father. “Nawaz Sharif had nothing to do with it,” he said.

“If there was no connection, then how does the money trail lead to the London flats?” Justice Khosa inquired. “There are two different money trails before us. How did the money go to Jeddah and then to London? And how did the money go from Dubai to London and then Qatar?”

The PM’s counsel denied Nawaz Sharif had been a director of the family’s Dubai factory.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawyer said that basic investment for Jeddah Steel Mill was taken from the sale of Dubai Steel Mill.

“How can we believe that he was never the director?” Justice Khosa asked. “No documents have been submitted before us to prove he was never the director.”

Khan told the bench that the Dubai factory was established after taking a loan, upon which he was admonished by a judge for presenting documents in court that did not make this apparent. The counsel asked the court to form a commission “to go to Dubai and review allegations made against the prime minister.”

Justice Ijazul Hassan observed that the prime minister had recognised the Dubai mills and said all records are available. “Now the burden of proof is on you,” he told the PM’s counsel.

Khan was of the opinion that presenting documents and proof is the petitioner’s job.

Justice Khosa remarked, “the prime minister’s lawyer will have to satisfy the court” regarding the ownership of the Dubai factory.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed told Makhdoom Khan that the Panamagate case is based on contradictions in statements made by the prime minister on the floor of the National Assembly after the Panama leaks last year.

The judge, referring to the plaintiff’s allegations that Nawaz Sharif provided incorrect statements, told the counsel, “If you disagree, then you will have to prove it.”

“If there is a small mistake in the speech, it can be overlooked. But if mistakes were made on purpose, there will be serious consequences,” Justice Ejaz Afzal warned.

“We do not believe that the speech was wrong but if something was hidden on purpose, we will consider that to be a half truth,” Justice Khosa said.

“Will Article 66 be a hindrance to the court’s review of the PM’s speech?” Justice Ejaz asked. The counsel told the judge that the prime minister, in his speech, was giving an overview of his family’s business.

“He was not giving oath or answering a specific question,” Khan said. “The prime minister’s speech was not a statement in the court.”

Makhdoom Khan said that there are two ways to remove the prime minister: the first is by the submission of a no-confidence motion. The second requires that Members of the National Assembly prove that the PM is dishonest.

“The Supreme Court, however, cannot disqualify him based on the statements and claims of others,” Khan said.

“Did the prime minister tell the truth or did Hussain Nawaz tell the truth,” Justice Ejaz inquired. “If one of them has told the truth, then the other has lied.”

“The record the prime minister referred to in his address has still not come forth,” Justice Gulzar observed.

Justice Khosa remarked, “The prime minister had said his life is an open book. There seem to be some pages missing from that book.”

Makhdoom Khan finished the days arguments by telling the court that the matter of the money trail has nothing to do with Nawaz Sharif.

“The business belongs to the premier’s children. The record will be presented by their lawyer.”

“The lawyer of Hassan and Hussain Nawaz will present details about the business and the money trail record,” Makhdoom Khan said.

The hearing was adjourned till January 13 (Friday).

Talking to media later Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said it stands proven in the apex court that the prime minister has no connection with Panama case.

She said allegations leveled against him have proven to be false. She said the PTI has no evidence at hand to prove its allegations.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has given mega development projects to the country including road infrastructure, health and education reforms and national counter terrorism policy.

She said Imran Khan only wants to disrupt the development of the country. She said with the blessings of God Almighty, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will take forward his agenda of development.

Speaking to media, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Daniyal Aziz said all of PTI’s allegation were proven wrong today. “A lawyer who called himself a stepney has now run away,” he said in a jibe at PTI’s lawyer Naeem Bukhari.

PML-N leader Maida Hameed said that it is evident that the PM does not own offshore accounts. “Imran Khan can see Khyber Pakhtunkhwa slipping from his hands.

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