ISLAMABAD: The joint investigation team (JIT) probing the Panama Papers case on Tuesday questioned the prime minister’s son, Hussain Nawaz, to establish the money trail of his London properties.
The JIT also recorded the statement of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Chief Executive Officer Saeed Ahmed.
Hussain Nawaz reached the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) in Islamabad at about 11am amid a media frenzy. However, he was kept waiting for over two hours before he was allowed to enter the conference room to meet with the six-member team.
Statement of NBP CEO recorded; Hassan, Maryam arrive in Islamabad
The JIT grilled him until 5pm, after which he was allowed to leave.
This was Hussain Nawaz’ second interaction with the JIT — he first appeared before the investigation team on Sunday (May 28). At that time, he had asked the JIT for more time to prepare, while the body did not allow him to have a lawyer present.
The arrival of an ambulance at the scene caused a brief panic at FJA, but it was later clarified that the ambulance was part of the protocol for VIP movement.
Following his long session with the JIT, Hussain Nawaz looked confident as he emerged from the FJA. At first, he attempted to leave, but then disembarked from his car for a brief chat with the legion of mediapersons waiting for him in the scorching heat since the morning.
Talking to reporters, Hussain Nawaz claimed that he and his family, including his father Nawaz Sharif, were innocent. “However, I decided to face the JIT and respond to all of their questions. I am confident that the investigation will prove our stance; that we have not done anything illegal,” he maintained.
“I was fasting when I appeared before the JIT. They kept me waiting for over two hours, but I had to wait because I wanted to answer them properly,” he said.
When asked about the behaviour of the two JIT members — SECP’s Bilal Rasool and State Bank’s Amer Aziz — whose presence he had unsuccessfully challenged before the Supreme Court, Hussain Nawaz said that if he noticed something odd about their behaviour, “they know I can go to court or place this matter before the people of Pakistan”.
He said that he would only produce those documents which he was legally bound to submit to the JIT, adding that he would appear before the team again, if summoned.
However, he said that since the Supreme Court had ordered to keep the JIT’s proceedings secret, he could not disclose what questions the JIT asked.
Individuals privy to the investigation, however, said that the JIT’s questions were related to the ownership of London flats and how the Sharif family came to purchase these properties.
Sources said the JIT had asked the PM’s son why he kept changing his stance over the source of income for those properties in interviews telecast by different television channels.
The interview also included questions on the contradictions between his accounts in different interviews and what he had submitted in a sworn statement before the Supreme Court.
Some of the JIT’s questions were also related to offshore companies, the letter from the Qatari prince and other related issues, sources claimed.
But Hussain Nawaz’ responses were not different from what he submitted in his concise statement before the Supreme Court, they said.
They said that the son of the PM gave details of the investments made by his late grandfather in the UAE and Saudi Arabia following the nationalisation of industries in Pakistan.
He also narrated the situation following the October 1999 coup, when his family, including the prime minister, was put behind bars.
Hussain Nawaz also talked about Tariq Shafi, the prime minister’s cousin, who was looking after the Sharif family businesses in Dubai. Mr Shafi has already testified before the JIT on May 19.
Mohammad Asghar adds: Hassan Nawaz, the younger son of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, also arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday, apparently to appear before the JIT. Sources said Hassan Nawaz arrived at Benazir Bhutto International Airport at around 6.40am via flight EY-233 from Abu Dhabi. He then left for the PM House amid tight security.
Earlier, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister’s daughter, returned to Islamabad on Monday after a week-long stay in London, via PK-786.
Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2017