ISLAMABAD: The joint investigation team (JIT) investigating the Panama Papers revelations has sent questionnaires to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his sons Hussain and Hassan Nawaz, sources privy to the investigation told Dawn.
The team, headed by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Additional Director General Wajid Zia, had also written to the PM and his sons to record their statements, the sources said.
However, the six-member team wants the PM and his sons to respond to the questionnaires before recording their formal statements.
SC to take up Hussain Nawaz’s objections against two JIT members on Monday
However, during a press conference on Wednesday, Minister of State Tariq Fazal Chaudhry claimed that the JIT had so far not sought to question Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “There is no intimation that the JIT has sent a letter to the prime minister to record his statement, but he will fully cooperate if any such demand is made,” Mr Chaudhry said.
The prime minister and his sons have also started consulting lawyers in connection with the ongoing investigation of the JIT, sources in the legal team of the prime minister told Dawn.
According to them, at least four top lawyers of the country have been consulted so far and the PM as well as his sons would follow the instructions of the legal team while testifying before the JIT.
The PM’s son has also raised objections against the presence of two JIT members after consulting the legal team and filed a petition before the apex court challenging their presence in the JIT accordingly.
The Supreme Court implementation bench, meanwhile, is expected to take up the objections raised by Hussain on Monday (May 29).
The bench, which consists of Justices Ejaz Afzal Khan, Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, has already received the objections and notices have been issued to the complainant.
But Advocate Chaudhry Faisal Hussain, who assisted senior PTI counsel Naeem Bokhari during the Panama Papers case, was surprised that the reservations and apprehensions raised by the complainant had not been shared with the PTI, which was the petitioner in the case.
However, he expressed confidence that when the bench took up the matter, the same would be provided to the petitioner, as was usually done.
In his application, Hussain Nawaz has requested that for the sake of propriety, State Bank of Pakistan’s Amer Aziz and Bilal Rasool of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) should withdraw from the JIT.
One of them is said to be a close friend of former president retired General Pervez Musharraf, while the other is a close relative of former governor Mian Azhar — a founder of the PML-Q and currently associated with the PTI.
The questionnaires contain queries that cover the 13 questions posed to the JIT by the Supreme Court in its April 20 verdict.
These include: how did Gulf Steel Mill come into being; what led to its sale; what happened to its liabilities… how did they reach Jeddah, Qatar and the UK; whether Hussain and Hassan Nawaz had the means in the early 1990s to possess and purchase the flats; whether the sudden appearance of the letters of Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani is a myth or a reality… who, in fact, is the real and beneficial owner of Nielsen Enterprises Limited and Nescoll Limited; how did Hill Metal Establishment come into existence; where did the money and working capital for Flagship Investment Limited and other companies set up/taken over by the son of the PM come from; and, where do the huge sums running into millions gifted by Hussain Nawaz to Nawaz Sharif drop in from?
Sources said the questionnaires asked how the PM’s son set up a new steel manufacturing business in Jeddah, utilising the proceeds of the sale of an earlier factory there.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had maintained in his speech before the National Assembly that proceeds from the sale of a factory in Jeddah had been utilised for the “purchase” of the London properties.
According to officials privy to developments, the questions also incorporated certain observations given by the apex court in its April 20 verdict.
The JIT has so far recorded the statements of Mian Tariq Shafi, a cousin of the prime minister, former chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) retired Lt Gen Munir Hafeez and journalist Umar Cheema.
Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2017