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ISLAMABAD: The head of Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) admitted before the accountability court on Friday that the investigators did not probe Dibb Lupton Broomhead, its partner Lawrence Radley and the management company, Arena, in the Avenfield apartments reference.

During the Friday proceedings, the supreme leader of the PML-N Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz were given exemption from appearing in court for a day due to security reasons.

The defence counsel, Amjad Pervez, who cross-examined JIT head and prosecution witness Wajid Zia, claimed that the investigation might have proved that she had no connection with the Avenfield property and alleged the JIT “deliberately avoided” investigating the matter to falsely implicate her and her spouse retired captain Mohammad Safdar in the case. The star witness, however, denied the allegation and said: “It’s incorrect to suggest this.”

Nawaz, Maryam granted exemption from appearance in court for one day

The prosecution witness said the certification by the British Virgin Island authorities of a correspondence between financial investigation agencies (FIA of BVI) and Mossack Fonseca established the link of Ms Nawaz with Minerva that was documented through a letter dated Dec 5, 2005. There was a documentary evidence to connect her with Nescoll enterprises and Nielsen Limited, as they were owned through bearer shares certificates at the time of their incorporation, he told the defence counsel. However, he added, she had no role in the incorporation of both companies.

He said the JIT did not gather record to establish who had been administering secretarial administration of Nescoll & Nielsen since their incorporation in January 2006. He said the JIT did not have record about the companies managing or maintaining the Avenfield apartments from 1993 to 1996 or about the owner of the flats before the two BVI companies Nescoll and Nielsen.

The counsel for the Sharif family said that as per land registry, Avenfield apartments 17 & 17-A were registered under the proprietorship of Nescoll Enterprises, c/o Dibb Lupton Broomhead, in 1993 & 1996, while the flats 16 and 16-A were registered under the proprietorship of Nielsen c/o Dibb Lupton Broomhead on July 31, 1995.

The defence counsel then produced a letter sent by the partner of Dibb Lupton Broomhead, Lawrence Radley, to the counsel for the Sharif family in the Supreme Court, Salman Akram Raja. Mr Radley in the letter stated: “I can confirm that I acted on behalf of the purchasers of the Avenfield apartments around 1993 to 1996. The properties were purchased through two British Virgin Island companies Nielsen & Nescoll and instructions to purchase the properties were not provided by any member of the Sharif family.”

When Mr Zia was asked if the JIT had investigated Mr Radley, he said: “The JIT decided not to associate Mr Radley in its investigation because the letter clearly states that the flats were purchased through two offshore companies.

“Purchase through offshore companies was devised to maintain anonymity,” Mr Zia said, admitting that in the JIT report there was no mention of the letter written to Mr Raja.

The defence counsel then confronted the prosecution witness with a letter written by the company, namely Arena, to thank Hussain Nawaz, the son of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, for acquiring management services. Mr Zia said the JIT did not investigate Arena as it was a service provider which had nothing to do with the ownership of Nielsen and Nescoll. He said Arena’s letter was separately submitted to the apex court. However, the counsel insisted that Arena was not a service provider but a management company which liaised on behalf of Hussain Nawaz with the service providing companies.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2018