ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Khan Tareen, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court on Dec 1, has informed the court that he could not present legal instruments and specific documents regarding his trust namely Shiny View Limited (SVL) and his property, Hyde House, during the course of litigation because they were not in his personal knowledge, possession or control.
The PTI stalwart, however, argued in his review petition, filed through his counsel, Sikandar Bashir Mohmand, that these documents were being furnished before the court now. “My understanding and knowledge of the trust arrangement, its legal aspect and components and its legal effect was that of a lay person gathered from my interaction with my professional advisors and the trustees,” pleaded Mr Tareen in the review petition.
On Dec 1, the Supreme Court absolved PTI chairman Imran Khan of all allegations of corruption levelled against him, but disqualified Mr Tareen for mis-declaration under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution — the same provision under which former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was held ineligible to hold any public office for life in the Panama Papers case.
In the review petition, Mr Tareen justified that none of the legal instruments were signed by him, nor was he party to any of these documents.
There was never any occasion or cause prior to Dec 1 verdict for him to have access to or be provided with these legal instruments or be explained their technical and specific contents and provisions, he contended.
These documents and legal instruments were internal to the trust, the trustees, SVL and its management and operations. The object of establishing the trust was to provide a family dwelling in England for the children and grandchildren for their use and benefit, an arrangement he wished to continue after his death and death of his spouse, Mr Tareen stated.
The inclusion of Mr Tareen and his wife, the review petition argued, as discretionary lifetime beneficiaries in the settlement was a protective measure, to preclude the children, at least during his lifetime, from liquidating the trust and distributing and spending the proceeds.
Before the trust was established in May 5, 2011, the petition stated, Mr Tareen obtained professional legal and taxation advice with the object of the compliance with applicable laws and making all mandatory disclosures. The advice given was to establish an irrevocable discretionary trust, which, the petition stated, Mr Tareen would fund by remittances through official banking channels from his tax-paid income in Pakistan.
All steps and actions relating to remittance of monies from Pakistan to fund the trust were on the advice of these professionals with the intent and object of compliance with all applicable laws and making all mandatory disclosures.
Pakistan tax advice was that once the remitted funds were transferred to the trust, these would cease to be part of his wealth and assets, argued Mr Tareen, adding that he was consistently advised that for as long as Hyde House remained part of the trust, which held it through SVL on discretionary terms as per the settlement, the discretionary lifetime beneficiaries would not have any beneficial interest or propriety interest in the same, unless and until the discretion for distribution of the property held in trust or of distribution of the sale proceeds of such property was exercised in favour of one or more of the discretionary lifetime beneficiaries.
Since the trust was funded through remittances from Pakistan using official banking channels and was, therefore, in the full knowledge of the State Bank of Pakistan, the question of concealment of facts does not arise.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2018