JIT put unreasonable terms for Qatari prince’s statement: Nawaz

Updated November 17, 2018

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In Al-Azizia reference former premier has so far answered 120 questions out of a total of 151.— AFP/File
In Al-Azizia reference former premier has so far answered 120 questions out of a total of 151.— AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday told the accountability court seized with the Al-Azizia reference that the joint investigation team (JIT) constituted in the Panama Papers case “imposed extremely strict, unreasonable conditions” for recording the statement of Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber Al-Thani.

The Qatari prince was the “missing link” in the money trail of the Sharif family for their London properties and businesses in the UK and Saudi Arabia.

A day earlier, the former premier had testified that he was not a participant in the transactions between the Qatari royal family and the Sharifs. And on Friday, he said the prince was a key witness regarding his family’s money trail but the JIT deliberately ignored him during the course of its investigations.

In Al-Azizia reference former premier has so far answered 120 questions out of a total of 151

Continuing with his testimony, he said: “I have no personal knowledge of the correspondence between Wajid Zia and his Excellency Mr Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber Al-Thani, nor am I the subject matter of any of the letters in the said correspondence.”

He claimed the Qatari prince, at every stage of the investigations, confirmed the money trail and also offered to verify the contents of the transactions between the two families.

In response to the suggestion that the Qatari prince was unwilling to accept the jurisdiction of the Pakistani criminal justice system, Mr Sharif replied: “This is incorrect. Prince Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber Al-Thani never denied the jurisdiction of the Pakistani courts, or to be part of any inquiry or investigation by the JIT for purposes of confirmation of the contents of the letters [that confirmed money trail]... and [he] even asked the JIT to provide him a questionnaire in advance prior to the arrival of JIT in Doha... on the contrary [JIT] imposed extremely strict, unreasonable conditions for recording of his statement.”

According to Mr Sharif, the Qatari prince “repeatedly offered to verify the contents of his aforementioned letters; he had also repeatedly invited the JIT members to visit Doha so as to facilitate them to verify in person the contents of his letters”.

He further testified that he never relied upon these letters but his co-accused [Hussain Nawaz] produced the letters in his defence to establish the money trail before the Supreme Court during the hearing of the Panama Papers case.

During that case the Sharif family had taken the stance before the top court that they had acquired properties in London and established businesses in the UK and Saudi Arabia with the sale proceeds of the Gulf Steel Mills, which was set up by his father Mian Mohammad Sharif during the 1970s.

In response to a question about remittances sent to him by Hussain Nawaz from the account of the Hill Metal Establishment, Mr Sharif admitted that his son remitted the amount to his accounts and that more than 70 per cent of the remitted amount was transferred to the account of his daughter Maryam Nawaz.

He said the amount was remitted to his accounts as a gift and this was properly declared in his tax returns as well.

The former prime minister said that an amount of Rs100 million was donated to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in 2013.

On Friday Mr Sharif responded to a total of 30 questions. During his testimony, being recorded under Section 342 of the criminal procedure code, he has so far answered 120 questions out of a total of 151.

Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik adjourned further proceedings till Monday.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018