ISLAMABAD: Hussain Nawaz, the elder son of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, appeared before the joint investigation team (JIT) on Sunday in connection with the Panama Papers probe into the Sharif family’s assets.
Headed by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Additional Director General Wajid Zia, the JIT grilled Mr Hussain for about two-and-a-half hours at the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA).
Though he has raised objections against two of the six JIT members, which will be taken up by the Supreme Court today (Monday), Hussain Nawaz told reporters outside the FJA that since the court had not issued a restraining order, he had complied with the team’s directions and preferred to appear before it in person.
“I received a notice from the JIT yesterday and was asked to appear on May 28,” he said.
SC to take up Hussain Nawaz’s objections to two members today
The PM’s son said that he wanted to appear before the JIT in the presence of his lawyer.
But sources said the JIT did not allow the counsel to assist Hussain Nawaz during his interview and asked him to first seek permission from the Supreme Court.
Mr Hussain also claimed that the JIT had not furnished him with any questionnaire, nor had they given him a list of documents to produce.
When asked whether his appearance would legitimise the two members he had objected to, Hussain Nawaz said that since the apex court was yet to take up the case, it was not appropriate if he avoided the investigation at this stage.
Sources in the JIT said the investigation team questioned Hussain Nawaz with regard to his ownership of the London flats.
They said the JIT also asked him why he kept changing his stance over the source of income for those properties in interviews telecast by different television channels, including the BBC in 1999, where he said he was a student and could not own any property, and was rather living in rented premises.
The questionnaire for Hussain Nawaz included questions on the contradictions between his accounts in different interviews and what he had submitted in a sworn statement before the Supreme Court.
According to sources privy to the development, the prime minister’s son asked for some time to submit a comprehensive response to the questions posed by the JIT.
When he arrived at the FJA on Sunday morning, several politicians from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), including Islamabad Mayor Anser Aziz, were also with him. But his supporters remained outside the building, and Hussain Nawaz and his lawyer used another door to exit the FJA.
State Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb spoke in defence of the ruling family. Radio Pakistan quoted the minister as saying that Hussain Nawaz could have avoided the JIT notice, since he has expressed reservations over two members in a petition filed before the apex court. However, he appeared before it, proving that the PML-N holds constitutional institutions of the country in high esteem.
The apex court will be taking up Mr Hussain’s objections to two JIT members today (Monday). He has alleged that Bilal Rasool of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan is a nephew of Mian Mohammad Azhar, whose family are ardent Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) supporters.
He has also objected to the inclusion of Ahmer Aziz, a representative of the State Bank of Pakistan who was also part of a National Accountability Bureau investigation which was carried out into the Hudabiya Paper Mills scam under former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf’s regime.
Another member of the Sharif family — the PM’s cousin Tariq Shafi — has also filed a complaint with the JIT head against some members of the team who allegedly misbehaved with him during his interrogation. A copy of the complaint has been sent to the SC registrar for the perusal of the bench.
The JIT also summoned the incumbent chief operating officer of the National Bank of Pakistan, Saeed Ahmed to record statement on Saturday.
According to a confession of Ishaq Dar in the Hudaibya Paper Mills Case, which he later disowned, Mr Ahmed’s bank accounts were used to deposit funds.
Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2017