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Panamagate: Imran wants SC to ignore two Qatari letters

Updated February 18, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court seized with the Panama Papers case, asking it to ignore the two Qatari letters produced by the Sharif family as evidence of their stance in the case.

In the letters dated Nov 5 and Dec 22, 2016, former Qatari prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabber Al-Thani had clarified the Sharifs’ investment and settlement of 12 million dirhams in 1980 in the real estate business of the Al-Thani family.

In the 24-page affidavit, the PTI leader termed the letters a wonderful example of reverse reconstruction, clearly concocted to cater to the issues before the Supreme Court. The letters, he argued, were simply ‘unbelievable’ and an alleged puerile attempt by a rich Qatari to come to the aid of a rich Pakistani.

Mr Khan aims to rebut the Qatari letters, the affidavits of Tariq Shafi — a cousin of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — and that of Abdul Rahman Mohammad Abdullah Kayed and Hussain Nawaz, and touch upon the antecedents and background of Shezi Nackvi, the non-executive director of Crescent Standard Investment Bank Ltd, purchase of London flats and alleged tax evasion by the prime minister.

The affidavit disputed the assertion that 12m dirham in cash was invested with the Qatari royal family and therefore, it said, no question of settlement with the Al-Thani family arises.

“No banking transaction has been placed on record by Sheikh Hamad or Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,” said the affidavit filed through Advocate Naeem Bokhari, the counsel for Mr Khan.

Mr Shafi in his affidavit, submitted on Jan 20, claimed that he had deposited 12m dirham in cash with the Qatari rulers after the sale of Gulf Steel Mills in 1980.

Likewise, the February 2006 trust deed between the prime minister’s children — Maryam Safdar and Hussain Nawaz — did not, and could not have taken place and, was therefore, fake or otherwise fatally defective with no effect on the actual or beneficial ownership of the upscale four London flats.

Mr Khan argued that the Qatari letters reflected that the Al-Thani family was acting as a banker in respect of a non-existent investment. Curiously, he said, the worksheet presented before the court reflected only the drawdown on this claimed investment in relation to the transactions being summoned by the apex court.

“For 20 years there was no withdrawal from the alleged fake investment, but payment of $8m in 2000 to Al-Towfeeq Company for Investment Funds was shown without a corresponding bank transaction or remittance, similar to the cash receipts from Tariq Shafi in 1980,” the affidavit said.

It claimed that no money was available with Mr Shafi to act as per instructions of the late Mian Sharif, and the improvement made in his subsequent affidavit of January 2017 claiming that the cash was handed over to Fahad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani of Qatar in Dubai on his different visits was equally false.

Dubai’s Gulf Steel Mills was a financial disaster from the beginning until its end, the affidavit claimed. Besides, the Hudaibya Paper Mill’s audited financial statements of 2000 do not reflect the $8m purported payment as a final clearance of the Al-Towfeeq loan. Instead, the accounts show that the liability was simply substituted without identifying the person or entity which was the new creditor.

In 2001, Hussain Nawaz received $1.038m to cover his investment in London, i.e Flagship and other companies, Mr Khan said, adding that once again there was no banking transaction.

Surprisingly, the amounts for Azizia Steel Company were paid through cheques when the investment was in a brother Arab country, the PTI chief said, adding that the documents presented by the Sharif family showed a payment of $936,766 in 2004, also in cash because there was no bank transaction.

About the prime minister, the affidavit stated that he had failed to mention any investment in Qatar with the Al-Thani family’s real estate business when he addressed parliament or the nation on television and even in his concise statement of Nov 3, 2016, before the Supreme Court.

About the flats, it said the Sharifs had lived in London for many years where property could not be purchased, except through solicitors. The purchaser has to deposit the agreed purchase price in the bank account of his solicitor, who upon signing the final contract, transfers the amount to the bank account of the seller’s solicitor, who then deposits it in the account of the seller.

But till date no material whatsoever had been placed before the Supreme Court reflecting any banking transaction by Sheikh Hamad qua the four London flats purchased between 1993 and 1995 or by the prime minister or Hussain Nawaz, the affidavit said, adding that these apartments could not be possibly purchased without banking transactions.

Considering the non-reflection of rent claimed to have been paid by Hassan Nawaz through quarterly remittances from Pakistan in the alleged “newly constructed reverse engineered statement” by Sheikh Hamad, the flats were purchased at the relevant dates by the Sharif family through alleged money laundering and Maryam Nawaz was and is the beneficial owner of these flats, the affidavit claimed.

Likewise, it said, gifts amounting to Rs812m sent by Hussain Nawaz to the prime minister of which nearly Rs20m was gifted back to Hussain were income from other sources. Similarly, the cash gift of Rs51m by the prime minister to Maryam was not admissible under tax laws, the affidavit claimed.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2017