Nawaz Sharif in hot waters
*ISLAMABAD - The decision on the Panama cases in the Accountability Court is expected in the month of June as the cases are fast *inching closer towards concluding the trial.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Friday completed final arguments in the Avenfield Apartments reference against the Sharif family and Sharifs are likely to be punished in the cases based on the evidences presented in the court.
While arguing for the fourth consecutive day, NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi concluded arguments in the reference filed against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Captain (retd) Safdar, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz.
In his arguments, the DPG said that the prosecution’s job was to prove possession or ownership of the Avenfield Apartments by the accused and added it had been proved through ‘independent evidence’.
He said that the ownership of the London flats has been proved through correspondence between the Financial Investigation Agency (FIA) of British Virgin Island (BVI) with the Mossack Fonseca in 2012 which was obtained by the JIT in 2017.
“Also,” he said, “the ownership is proved through the documents pertaining to the registry of title, documents of the Samba Bank and Deutsche Bank among other things.”
Abbasi argued that the Sharif family never brought any documentary or oral evidence to counter the evidence collected by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and NAB.
Referring to Sharif’s speeches, Abbasi said, the ex PM himself said in one of his addresses that no one keeps properties in his or her name if it is made through ill-gotten money.
“This is what the NAB’s stand is. He [Sharif] kept the London properties in his children’s name.”
The prosecutor said all agencies of the world could not have found about the ownership of the Park Lane Apartments had the UK authorities not made it mandatory to declare properties in 2006.
On the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) requests, Abbasi said the MLA is state-to-state communication and “there can be no doubt about it”, adding, “It is admissible evidence in court.”
Abbasi said the Sharif family did not bring Tariq Shafi or the Qatari prince in their defence despite their earlier claim that Shafi and the prince had proved their case.
He said the MLA response from the Dubai authorities had confirmed that the agreement of 1980 and “any transaction regarding the 25 per cent shares sale of the Ahli Steel Mills (ASM) (erstwhile Gulf Steel Mills) does not exist”.
In addition, he said, it was up to the Sharif family to bring Shafi or the Qatari prince in their defence to prove that the AED 12 million was given in cash in 1980.
“At the moment,” he said, “their ‘source’ has been proved wronged.”
The DPG continued that the JIT’s opinion was not binding but relevant because the JIT drew its conclusion on the basis of documents placed in the JIT report.
Abbasi argued that Sharif had reiterated that his name was not mentioned in the Panama Papers and he had no link to it.
“When the charge was framed here in this court, neither did he clear himself or his children nor did his children say that the properties belonged to them and their father had no connection with it,” he said.
In addition, he said, Sharif never mentioned the Qatari prince or the final settlement of the London flats in 2006 during his speeches.
“Also, if the settlement took place in 2006,” he questioned, “why did they never mention it in their speeches and different interviews?”
Moreover, he said, Robert Radley has no enmity with the Sharifs, his report is admissible, it came in a sealed envelope and Radley himself appeared before the court as a witness to substantiate the evidence.
About his meeting with Radley in London a day before his statement and cross examination in the case, Abbasi said that “there is nothing wrong in meeting with the prosecution witness prior to his statement”.