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ISLAMABAD: Joint investigation team (JIT) head Wajid Zia on Thursday said that during his over 29 years of service in the police department the Panama Papers case was the first time he investigated financial transactions and matters related to company laws.

During his cross-examination in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference in the accountability court, Mr Zia conceded he had never before investigated any case involving commercial transactions and partnership or sole proprietorship.

Responding to a question put to him by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed, the JIT head, however, informed the court that he held the post of director economic crimes wing in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for two years where he supervised investigations.

When the defence counsel asked Mr Zia if by virtue of his office, he was supposed to be well versed with the laws related to setting up of companies, his reply was in the negative.

Defence counsel showers praise on special prosecutor for his professionalism

The JIT head also admitted that he did not even know that the Companies Ordinance, 1984, had been replaced by the Companies Act, 2017.

“It means that you believe that Companies Ordinance, 1984, is still an effective law?” asked Mr Haris.

Lead prosecutor Wasiq Malik said that since this question was related to law the witness was not required to answer it.

The court, however, overruled the objection as the defence counsel argued that the question was not about the law but was asked to get an understanding of the JIT head’s appreciation of the prevailing laws.

“I have asked this question to show the level of competence of the JIT head who probed a serious case against the then prime minister,” said Mr Haris.

In a rare move, the defence counsel praised special prosecutor Imran Shafiq and said that he was a young and energetic lawyer and he [Mr Haris] valued him for his professionalism. However, after a short while when Mr Shafiq intervened in the proceedings, Mr Haris quipped that he was considering taking back the words he had uttered about the prosecutor.

The court adjourned the hearing till Friday.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2018