ISLAMABAD: The joint investigation team (JIT) looking into the Panama Papers case has recommended reopening five cases decided by the Lahore High Court (LHC), eight investigations and two inquiries against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Of these 15 cases, three were registered during the 1994 and 2011 tenures of the PPP and 12 were prepared during the Musharraf regime, soon after Gen Musharraf toppled the Sharif government in the October 1999 military coup.

The case regarding the Sharif family’s four London apartments was also among the eight investigations started by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in December 1999.

Cases include 18-year-old investigation into Sharif family’s London properties; five cases decided by LHC

In its April 20 verdict, the Supreme Court asked a JIT to investigate the money trail for the London flats. The court’s other 12 questions were related to the sale and purchase of the Gulf Steel Mill, the Qatari letter, offshore companies and other matters.

The court had allowed the team, which consisted of two officials from military-led intelligence agencies and an official each from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), NAB, the State Bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, to consider the records already available with NAB and the FIA that may help the investigators.

In addition to the 18-year-old investigation into the London properties, the JIT also recommended reviving cases such as three NAB references and two FIA cases that were quashed by the LHC. The JIT even found anomalies in the cases quashed by the high court.

While discussing the quashing of an FIR registered against Mr Shairf in 1994 regarding “wrongful gain by Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif through obtaining loan for Hudabiya Engineering Pvt. Ltd by opening fake and fictitious accounts”, the JIT report states: “Lahore High Court only discussed the jurisdiction of the FIA regarding conducting investigation…question regarding existence of the individuals in [whose] name fake accounts were opened was not adequately addressed.”

The report also noted “that these cases have also been quashed without conducting a proper trial and without giving evidence a chance to come on record”.

The JIT also recommended reopening another case the FIA registered the same year of the same nature/ The report pointed out that the LHA had quashed a NAB reference filed against Mr Sharif and Saifur Rehman related to the purchase of a helicopter, allegedly through unfair means, and said it was a “case of further investigation”.

Discussing the LHC verdict on the Hudabiya Paper Mills reference, the team opined: “It was very well investigated reference which could not get a chance to go under trial and was quashed mere on technical grounds.”

It went on to say: “The investigation has clearly established the accounts and annexed the relevant evidences along with the reference which could not have over shadowed/thrown out mere on technical deficiencies in the investigation process.”

Regarding the Sharif family’s assets reference quashed by the LHC in 2014, the JIT insisted that there was strong evidence against the accused individuals. The team recommended that the SC direct NAB to appeal the acquittal of the Sharif family in these cases.

The JIT also recommended that NAB be directed to complete its investigation into the London properties.

The report stated: “The properties highlighted in this investigation are in fact the same on the basis of which primarily, the Honorable Supreme Court took cognizance of the Panama case and made a JIT on the matter.”

The JIT also recommended that the SC resume investigations against the prime minister for recruiting 42 employees in the FIA in the late 90s, the forced acquisition of land in and around Raiwind, the construction of a road to Raiwind, receiving funds for the Sharif Trust, assets beyond known sources of income and illegal plot allotments.

The SC was also recommended to direct the SECP to reopen the investigation into alleged money laundering by the Chaudhry Sugar Mills, owned by the Sharif family.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2017