ISLAMABAD: One of the prime minister’s cousins, in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court bench hearing the Panamagate case, has claimed that he deposited 12 million dirhams in cash with the Qatari ruling family following the sale of the Gulf Steel Mills in 1980.

In an affidavit dated Jan 20, 2017, which is also part of the concise statement submitted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son Hussain, Tariq Shafi stated that he had deposited the massive sum with Sheikh Fahad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani of Qatar, after receiving each instalment from Mohammad Abdullah Kayed Ahli.

Mr Ahli was the owner of the Ahli Steel Company, Dubai, of which Mr Shafi held 25pc shares. Following an agreement on April 14, 1980 between the two, the shares were sold and a net aggregate sum of 12m dirhams was received by Mr Shafi over the course of the year 1980.

The sum was deposited with the Al-Thani family on the instructions of his uncle, the late Mian Mohammad Sharif, the prime minister’s father.

Affidavit, concise statement explain Mian Sharif’s business dealings with Al-Thani family

At the time, Fahad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani was frequently in Dubai in connection with his business concerns and received the cash payment.

This is the second affidavit, the first being filed on Nov 12, 2016, where Mr Shafi has been shown as the owner of all Sharif family businesses in Dubai.

In the affidavit, Mr Shafi stated that Mian Sharif had made him a partner/shareholder in Gulf Steel out of love and affection in 1974, when he was only 19 years old.

In his concise statement, Hussain Nawaz had claimed that his grandfather, Mian Sharif, had told him that the late Sheikh Jassim bin Jabber Al-Thani had retained 12m dirhams and had assured the elder Sharif of a just and equitable return on the amount, as and when required.

Mian Sharif had also told Hussain, the statement claimed, that he had asked the Al-Thani family to consider Nawaz Sharif’s eldest son as the beneficiary of that amount. The grandfather had also informed Hussain that during his lifetime, he had been in touch with the Al-Thani family from time to time, including the late Sheikh Jassim bin Jabber Al Thani — who passed away in 1999 — directly and through his son, Sheikh Fahad bin Jassim bin Jabber Al-Thani, the statement said.

After Sheikh Jassim’s death, the statement said, Mian Sharif remained in contact with Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabber Al-Thani — the first foreign dignitary to fly to Pakistan to intercede with retired Gen Pervez Musharraf to respect Nawaz Sharif and his family.

Along with the affidavit, another letter from Sheikh Hamad was also appended, which clarified that in 1980, Mian Sharif had invested approximately 12m dirhams in the real estate business of the Al-Thani family.

This investment was made in cash, which was common practice in the Gulf region at the time and a customary way for them to do business, given the longstanding relationship between his father and Mian Sharif, the letter stated.

Between 2001 and 2003, Hussain’s statement explained, Mian Sharif had arranged $5.41m so he (Hussain) could invest in the Al-Azizia Steel Company Ltd. These funds were transferred by the Al-Thani family at the request of his grandfather, the statement said.

This fact was related to Hussain by Sheikh Hamad’s representative Nasir Khamis at the time of an overall settlement in late 2005, the statement said, adding that the equity injected by his grandfather, along with loans from financial institutions, were utilised to set up the Azizia Steel Manufacturing Plant near Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

The refurbishment of the old steel manufacturing machinery was personally overseen by Mian Aziz, who employed engineering staff from Ittefaq Foundaries in Lahore at the Azizia Steel Company. The Saudi Arabian government, out of regard for the efforts of his grandfather, allowed the conversion of agricultural land for industrial use, where the Azizia steel plant was set up, the concise statement explained.

The steel business was later sold in 2005 for a total consideration of over 63 million Saudi riyals.

In 2005, Sheikh Hamad offered to settle Mian Sharif’s outstanding investment with the Al-Thani family, the statement said.

Subsequently, the representatives of both met in Jeddah, where it was agreed that a cumulative return based on the London Inter Bank Offer Rate (LIBOR), as well as other established international lending rates from 1980 onwards, would be considered payable to the Al-Thani family, along with the principal amount of $3.257 million, the statement said.

Hussain was informed by the Al-Thani family representative that a sum of $8 million had been paid during the year 2000 to the Al-Towfeek Company for investment on the instructions of Mian Sharif, and the same amount was determined payable to Hussain by the Al-Thani family.

Published in Dawn January 29th, 2017