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Discrepancies and fabrications in Gulf Steel Mills inquiry: JIT report

Updated July 11, 2017

Volume one of the Joint Investigation Team's (JIT) report highlights several discrepancies and fabrications regarding the ownership and sale of the Gulf Steel Mills by Nawaz Sharif.

The 40-page section calls into question the reputation of chief witness Tariq Shafi and questions the Sharif family over the ownership and acquisition of the Avenfield apartments.

The answer to the origin of the funds lay with the sale of Gulf Steel Mills, the proceeds of which were invested with the Al-Thani family of Qatar, in “cash and without paperwork.”

Hussain and Hasan Nawaz Sharif (respondents 7 and 8) also revealed “with many shifting” and “conflicting positions,” that all ensuing projects were undertaken from the investment’s profits. This includes the purchase of the apartments, establishing businesses in Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom, and an out of court settlement with Al-Towfeek company.

The JIT subsequently found that the prime minister’s cousin Muhammad Tariq Shafi (witness), Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and Hasan Nawaz (respondents) failed to provide any “additional document/ record or evidence” to clarify the matter of Gulf Steel Mills. This includes evidence of proof of ownership and financial status of the Gulf Steel Mills.

The absence of documents and records and the “refusal” to provide “data disclosure consent” for the investigation team led the JIT to believe that the respondents were “consciously veiling the evidence” and its access.

The investigation also found that the 12 million dirhams used to fund the respondents’ businesses and properties (particularly Avenfield apartments) hinged upon two unreliable affidavits provided by Shafi.

Upon further questioning and cross-analysis, the JIT found that the witness “has not read or understood” the affidavit he submitted, which was drafted by Salman Akram Raja before he signed it. Shafi had “attributed the anomalies to his lawyer.”

In light of this, the JIT found that “these documents are factually incorrect, speculative, tampered and misleading, hence cannot be relied upon.”

Among with the several discrepancies and contradictions the JIT found that:

  • The statements of Tariq Shafi and Hussain Nawaz, with regards to their trip to Dubai for procurement, notarisation and attestation of documents, did not add up, calling into question the documents’ authenticity.

  • Hussain refuted Shafi’s claim that they had met Abdullah Kayed Ahli during their trip to Dubai in May/June 2016.

  • Shafi stated that Hussain did not know Ahli, whereas Hussain Nawaz stated that they knew each other.

In lieu of the several inconsistencies, the investigation concluded that Tariq Shafi had “in fact tried to mislead the Supreme Court.”

The investigation also surmised that Nawaz Sharif’s stance on the Gulf Steel Mills, after his address to the National Assembly and subsequent statement before the JIT, “cannot be corroborated”.

Despite the discrepancies during the investigation and several questions being raised regarding the stakeholders in Gulf Steel Mills and their assets and backgrounds, the JIT was able to conclude that:

  • Gulf Steel Mills was a family business with Tariq Shafi and Muhammad Hussain as Benami owners and Mian Muhammad Sharif as the actual owner. Mian Muhammad Sharif used the two benamidars to distance himself and his immediate family from prosecution under the Foreign Assets’ (Declaration) Regulation.

  • The two affidavits submitted by Tariq Shafi are “factually incorrect,
    speculative, tampered and misleading, hence cannot be relied upon".

  • Through information obtained from the UAE government, the Share Sale
    Agreement 1980 does not exist, making the submitted copy “unauthentic, fictitious and fabricated.” The notarisation of the document was also deemed “fictitious and illegal.”

  • The respondents’ and Shafi’s stated positions about Gulf Steel Mills are “false, fabricated, inconsistent and factually incorrect, hence
    cannot be relied upon.”

  • That Nawaz Sharif’s statement of the proceeds from the sale of Gulf
    Steel Mills being nine million US Dollars is inconsistent with the
    documents and record provided by the respondents themselves.

  • That Tariq Shafi not only produced “false and misleading” affidavits but is also “known to have a tainted reputation” as a defaulter and
    “absconder from law and was placed on the exit control list by UAE
    authorities."

  • That respondents misstated about the transportation of scrap
    machinery of Gulf Steel to Jeddah. LC document of transportation was also deemed “unauthentic and fictitious.”

The findings conclusively 'proved' for the JIT that the respondents’ story surrounding the acquisition, ownership and sale of Gulf Steel Mills is “unauthentic, lacks substance and seems fabricated.” Analysing all the documents and evidence and discrepancies the investigation also established that the “sale proceeds of Gulf Steel Mills never reached Jeddah, Qatar or the UK.”