Sharif children submitted forged trust deeds to Panamagate JIT, Wajid Zia tells court
Prosecution witness and Panamagate joint investigation team (JIT) head Wajid Zia on Tuesday told the accountability court during a hearing on the Avenfield Flats reference that the trust deeds submitted by Maryam Nawaz and her brothers Hassan and Hussain during the probe were forged.
Zia today continued testifying against members of the Sharif family in the Avenfield Flats reference ─ one of three corruption references filed against the family by the National Accountability Bureau on the Supreme Court's orders following the July 28 Panamagate judgement. He has appeared before the court in this regard five times.
Zia told the accountability court that the JIT had sent the trust deeds of offshore companies Nielsen and Nescoll submitted by Maryam during the Panamagate case to a London-based firm, Radley Forensic Document Laboratory, for forensic examination.
According to a forensic report issued by the firm, the JIT concluded that the documents were fake, he added.
He claimed that the accused had tampered with the documents by changing the dates from 2004 to 2006. He added that the accused admitted that the apartments were bought during the 1990s, when Hussain was a student.
The court also accepted NAB's request to include the letters written to the JIT last year by Qatari royal Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani and the British Virgin Islands, as evidence in the case. The decision was allowed after Zia concluded his testimony.
The hearing was adjourned until March 28. Zia will appear before the court for cross-examination by the defence counsel in the next hearing.
Last year, during the investigation of the Panama Papers case, Maryam had submitted a trust deed scripted in Calibri font. The JIT had declared the deed fake on the grounds that the font was not available in 2006, the year when the deed was prepared.
Last month, however, forensic expert Robert M. Radley — who had examined the deed submitted by Maryam — told the court that a beta version of the Calibri font was available in 2006.
The creator of the font Lucas de Groot confirmed as much to Dawn.com last year. He had, however, termed it "extremely unlikely" that a legal firm would use a font that was commercially unavailable, in official documents.
Sharif family is facing three corruption references filed by NAB last year. The references are related to the Flagship Investment Ltd, the Avenfield (London) properties and Jeddah-based Al-Azizia Company and Hill Metal Establishment.
The former premier and his sons, Hassan and Hussain, have been named in all three NAB references, while Maryam and husband Safdar have been named only in the Avenfield reference.
'NAB should be done away with'
In a casual conversation with the reporters inside the courtroom, former premier Nawaz Sharif said that NAB was a product of Musharraf's era and should be done away with.
"NAB was set up with a special agenda," Nawaz claimed. "It was used to influence politicians' loyalty."
He expressed suspicion that the body was being used to influence politicians once again. Nawaz vowed that this time he would not back off.
The former premier declared that holding him and his family accountable was "against the rule of law".
He also criticised Wajid Zia, claiming the witness used to "wait outside Musharraf's door for hours" and the former president would still not grant him a meeting.
Talking about the references filed against him, Nawaz claimed that the prosecution had been unable to prove any corruption against him or his children.
Nawaz avoided questions regarding PML-N stalwart Chaudhry Nisar and his recent statements, reprimanding a reporter asking him about the matter for "going west when he is talking about the east". He added that the party was still united and will remain so in future.
'Sould have had nothing to do with Memogate case'
Nawaz also admitted to committing a mistake by approaching the Supreme Court in the 2011 Memogate scandal, which had led to the resignation of the then Pakistani ambassador to United States, Hussain Haqqani.
"I should have had nothing to do with Memogate case," he said, expressing his regrets.
Responding to the remark later in the day, Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Khursheed Shah said that Nawaz had already accepted his mistake of going to the SC in the Memogate case privately in a meeting with him around six months ago.
"Mian sahab said 'I was made to commit the mistake'," Shah said, adding that Nawaz did not specify who made him commit the mistake.
He clarified that relations between the two parties did not turn sour after Nawaz's role in the scandal but actually faltered a couple of years later when a lunch invitation extended to the PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari by Nawaz was retracted "in an ordinary way" and without any important figure from the PML-N apologising for it.