ISLAMABAD: Hussain Nawaz, the eldest son of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, fired another salvo on a rainy Thursday morning when his counsel submitted a second letter from the Qatari ruling family before the Supreme Court, reaffirming their earlier claim that his grandfather had invested 12 million dirhams in the Al-Thani family’s business in the 1980s.
On Nov 15, Mr Hussain had submitted the first Qatari letter, explaining how the rulers of the Gulf state had supported the Sharif family, which eventually led to him acquiring the four Park Lane flats in UK.
“This investment was made by way of provision of cash, which was common practice in the Gulf region at the time of the investment and also given the longstanding relationship between my father and [Mian] Sharif, a customary way for them to do business,” said the fresh one-page letter from Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, former prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar.
Transactions between Mian Sharif and Al-Thani family made in cash; Hussain Nawaz submits documents to prove money trail
Annexed with Mr Hussain’s concise statement, the letter was submitted before a five-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, which is hearing the Panamagate case and was perceived to be an attempt to plug gaps in his case by answering the queries raised by the court during the course of hearings.
The Dec 22, 2016 letter, attested by the Pakistan embassy in Doha, which was submitted before the Supreme Court on Jan 26, 2017, through Advocate Salman Akram Raja, stated:
“In response to [the] queries, I wish to clarify that in 1980, Mian Mohammad Sharif, a longstanding and trusted business partner of my father, made an investment of approximately 12 million dirhams in the real estate business of the Al-Thani family.”
At the end of 2005, it explained, it was agreed that an amount of approximately $8m was due to Mian Sharif in accordance with the latter’s wishes, the letter stated. This amount was settled in 2006 delivering bearer shares of Nescoll and Nielson Enterprises Limited, which had been kept in Qatar until then, to Hussain Nawaz’s representative.
In addition to the letter, Hussain Nawaz had also submitted a profile of Hamad bin Jassim, an affidavit from Tariq Shafi, a copy of documents relevant to the sale of their Dubai factory in 1980, a copy of a letter of credit from Aug 15, 2001, a copy of the sale and purchase agreement for the Azizia Steel Plant from March 20, 2005, a copy of documents setting the basis of a settlement for the investment made by Mian Sharif, an affidavit from Shezi Nackvi pertaining to the Al Towfeek debt and many other documents, including audit reports of the Hudabiya Paper Mills.
The affidavit of Shezi Nackvi — the authorised representative of the Al Towfeek Company for Investment Funds Limited — stated that neither he nor any company official had any dealings, correspondence or meeting with Nawaz Sharif at any point in time during the entire period, commencing with the negotiation of the loan and culminating in the settlement, when the company made a commercial decision to settle the claim for $8m and the high court was duly informed that the matter had been settled.
He further clarified that the four London properties mentioned in his witness statement before the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division London were not mortgaged and were never offered as collateral for the amount advanced to the defendants (Mian Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and Abbas Sharif).
The affidavit stated that in Sept 1998, former interior minister and former FIA director Rehman Malik had produced a report that the Sharif family owned the Avenfield Properties through offshore companies. This was the information on which he based his witness statement to seek the attachment of the properties in the Al Towfeek case.
Hussain also denied that the properties in London were purchased between 1993 and 1996 by any member of the Sharif family, directly or indirectly.
These properties were acquired by Hussain in 2006 on account of the settlement with the Al-Thani family of Qatar, whereby a sum equivalent to $3.2 million, entrusted to the Al-Thani family, was adjusted after other distributions, consisting of a payment of $8 million to the Al Towfeek company in 2000, provision of over $5.4 million to Hussain and $4.2 million to Hassan Nawaz for their businesses in the UK between 2001 and 2004.
He also affirmed that he was the holder of a national tax number (NTN) in Pakistan and that the gifts given by him did qualify as gifts in terms of the Income Tax Ordinance 1979.
He stated that his brother Hassan had correctly stated that the London properties where they resided during their time as students were not owned by any member of the Sharif family at the time, while maintaining that the quote attributed to Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz (their mother) was incorrect. He also contended that his sister Maryam Nawaz had correctly maintained that she owned no property abroad.
Referring to the gifts he gave his father, Hussain explained that the annual cash flow as remittances to his father (Nawaz Sharif) in Pakistan was aimed at freeing his father from any financial constraints, given his full-time involvement in politics.
Meanwhile, Advocate Shahid Hamid, representing Maryam Nawaz Sharif, contended that Imran Khan — who was sitting in the first row of Courtroom No. 1 at the time — had not come before the court “with clean hands”.
To substantiate, he argued that the petitioner had a longstanding political feud with his client, citing newspaper clippings where Mr Khan had welcomed the Oct 12, 1999, ouster of the Nawaz Sharif government.
They have based their assertions that Mariam Safdar was the beneficial owner of the London flats on forged documents, the counsel argued.
At this, Justice Khosa reminded the counsel that former Jamaat-i-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed had also welcomed the military intervention at the time, adding that it was a past and closed transaction.
Justice Khosa also said that “political blood feud” was too strong a word.
“You will see after half an hour whether it is a blood feud or a political rivalry between different political parties,” observed Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, alluding to the daily acrid press talks by the parties involved in the Panamagate.
Justice Khosa also recalled that it was not only Imran Khan who was moving against the prime minister; the heads of other political parties such as the Jamaat and Awami Muslim League had also filed petitions.
“That’s because they are in coalition,” Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan quipped.
Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2017