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Shahbaz Sharif to appear before JIT today

Updated June 17, 2017

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PUNJAB Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is one of the directors of Hudaibya Paper Mills.
PUNJAB Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is one of the directors of Hudaibya Paper Mills.

ISLAMABAD: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will appear before the joint investigation team (JIT), constituted to probe money laundering allegations against the Sharif family, on Saturday.

Sources said that the Punjab chief minister would appear before the JIT as a witness.

They said the JIT was likely to ask Mr Sharif questions related to the establishment of the Gulf Steel Mills by his family in the UAE and its sale.

Since Mr Sharif is one of the directors of Hudaibya Paper Mills, the JIT may also cross-check with him the information it has so far gathered regarding the Hudaibya reference as well as old litigation between the Paper Mills and Al-Tawfeeq Investment Co, the sources further said.

According to the sources, Mr Sharif arrived in Islamabad on Friday to have some discussion with his lawyers prior to his appearance before the JIT scheduled for 11am on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the JIT is said to be sending two of its members to Qatar to record the statement of Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani.

Sources in the JIT said that the law ministry had authorised the proposed visit of the JIT members and the ministry of foreign affairs was coordinating with the Qatari government in this regard.

They said the JIT had also written a letter to the registrar of the Supreme Court regarding the upcoming visit of its members to Qatar.

The apex court has not only permitted the JIT members to travel abroad but also allowed them to engage any local or foreign company for the collection of evidence.

The sources said that the JIT members would visit Qatar in the next few days as Sheikh Hamad was willing to record his statement at his place.

The counsel for the Sharif family submitted a letter of Prince Hamad during the hearing of the Panama Papers case.

The letter states that Prince Hamad’s father — Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani — had business relations with Mian Mohammad Sharif, the father of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

According to the letter, Mian Sharif sold his business in Dubai in the early 1980s and invested 12 million dirhams in the real estate business of the Al-Thani family in Qatar. Flats number 17, 17a, 16 and 16a at Avenfield House, Park Lane, London — which are now owned by the Sharif family — were registered in the names of two offshore companies and were purchased from the proceedings of the real estate business.

The JIT last month wrote a letter to Sheikh Hamad and asked him to record his statement. The Qatari prince initially expressed his inability to appear before the investigation team in Pakistan but he has recently offered that the JIT may record his statement in Qatar.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2017