Dawn – JIT says PM couldn’t ‘satisfactorily answer most of the questions’

Azfar-ul-Ashfaque

Karachi, 12 July 2017. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing money laundering allegations found Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “could not satisfactorily answer most of the questions” during his appearance on June 15.

The JIT report, submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday, said he was “evasive, speculative and non-cooperative”.

“He was generally evasive and seemed preoccupied during the interview,” the report said. “Major part of his statement was based on ‘hearsay’. He remained non-committal, speculative and at times non-cooperative while recording his statement before the JIT,” said the team’s analysis of the prime minister’s statement.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1344740/jit-says-pm-couldnt-satisfactorily-answer-most-of-the-questions

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Dawn – JIT submits Panama probe report to SC today

Malik Asad

Islamabad, 10 July 2017. The most powerful, and perhaps, most controversial joint investigation team (JIT) in the country’s history will submit its final report on alleged money laundering by the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the Supreme Court today (Monday).

Besides other evidence, the report will consist of the statements of PM Sharif; Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif; the PM’s children Hussain, Hassan and Maryam Nawaz Sharif; son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar; PM’s cousin Tariq Shafi; friend Javed Kayani and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is the father-in-law of the PM’s younger daughter.

The government, however, has already shown its hand, vowing not to accept the investigation report in the absence of the statement of former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, a key defence witness.

Sources say that the report may not be as damaging for the ruling family as they are anticipating. “Though it won’t be pleasant, it is not the worst for the Sharif family as such,” a source confided.

According to those privy to the investigation, the case hinges on two parallel money trails for the Park Lane apartments: one based on the Rehman Malik investigation, and the other provided by Hussain Nawaz to the apex court.

FIA recommends booking SECP chief for record tampering

The Rehman Malik investigation of 1998 connected the purchase of the London properties with alleged money laundering.

In addition, the ‘forced confession’ of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is also being used to establish a case against the Sharif family. This was why the JIT summoned almost all important characters named in both the Rehman Malik report and Mr Dar’s ‘confession’.

The JIT also summoned National Bank of Pakistan CEO Saeed Ahmed, and some officials from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), among others.

Another important character, a British-Pakistani Kashif Mehmood Qazi, was also summoned. According to Rehman Malik’s account, four bank accounts in the Qazi family’s name were used to allegedly launder the Sharifs’ money.

Mr Qazi had initially refused to testify before the JIT, citing security concerns, but sources said the investigation team had managed to convince him to file a statement.

Though sacked Federal Investigation Agency officer Inam R. Sehri also submitted a 250-page report to the JIT, which supported the money trail identified by Rehman Malik, the sources said that the JIT did not give much weight to it.

Mr Sehri also offered to become a witness against the Sharifs, but was not summoned by the investigation team, sources in the former FIA officer’s family confirmed to Dawn.

Qatari evidence

Since the JIT did not record the statement of the former Qatari prime minster, it is being assumed that the JIT will not consider the money trail provided by Hussain Nawaz, who was summoned by the JIT six times and examined for around 30 hours in all.

The leadership of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is visibly unhappy with this development, and makes no secret of its disdain for the report, which does not include the statement of Sheikh Al-Thani. This message was clearly conveyed by four key cabinet ministers at a press conference on Saturday.

The JIT reportedly wrote to Sheikh Al-Thani thrice, and the former Qatari prime minster responded in writing. Sources said there were differences over the issue of jurisdiction; the JIT wanted him to testify him inside the territorial jurisdiction of Pakistan and offered to host him in Pakistan or record his statement at the Pakistani embassy at Doha.

Sheikh Al-Thani, on the other hand, believes that since he is not subject to Pakistani law, he may be deposed by the JIT at his palace.

There is precedent for the recording of a foreign national’s statement outside Pakistani territorial jurisdiction: a JIT probing the murder of former PM Benazir Bhutto recorded the statement of US lobbyist Mark Siegel in 2009 at his residence.

On the basis of this statement, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had implicated former president retired General Pervez Musharraf in the case.

Later, an Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi recorded Mr Siegel’s second statement under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code via video link from the US embassy in 2015.

During hearing of the Panama Papers case at the Supreme Court, one of the judges on the implementation bench had remarked that the Qatari evidence could be discarded if Sheikh Al-Thani did not testify before the JIT.

NAB trail

The JIT also recorded the statements of three chairmen of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), including the incumbent chief. It also recorded the statements of other officials from NAB, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other institutions.

The JIT questioned the first NAB chairman, retired Lt Gen Syed Mohammad Amjad, under whom the bureau had filed three corruption references against the Sharif family.

He was also the NAB chief that pardoned Ishaq Dar, who was then an accused in the corruption references, but later turned approver.

The second NAB chairman, retired Lt General Munir Hafeez, was also examined by the JIT.

According to a former NAB deputy prosecutor general, the Hudaibya Paper Mills reference was adjourned sine die while Gen Hafeez was the chairman.

Incumbent NAB chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry was the last witness examined by the JIT.

Sources said Mr Chaudhry was asked why NAB did not appeal the Lahore High Court (LHC) order to quash the Hudaibya reference, and why he did not authorise a re-investigation.

In response, the NAB chief is said to have handed over a minute sheet, signed by then-prosecutor general K.K. Agha, along with his legal opinion for why the LHC order should not be appealed.

Besides the prosecutor general, an additional deputy prosecutor general who handled the case also opined against filing an appeal, Mr Chaudhry told the JIT.

The documents, handed over to the JIT by the NAB chairman, explained that since the “elder Sharif (Nawaz Sharif’s father) is now deceased”, it would be a waste of “NAB’s time and resources” and may be presumed as “victimisation”.
It was “the opinion of the prosecution that this is not a fit case for an appeal,” the documents maintain.

SECP tampering

Separately, an FIA team investigating allegations of record tampering by the SECP has found its chairman, Zafarul Haq Hijazi, guilty of altering the records of Chaudhry Sugar Mills, owned by the Sharif family, and has recommended the registration of an FIR against him.

The FIA submitted the 28-page report to the apex court on Saturday, where it endorsed the JIT’s allegation of record-tampering against the SECP.

Besides the registration of a case against the chairman under Sections 466, 472 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947, the FIA also recommends disciplinary proceedings against SECP Director Ali Azeem and Maheen Fatima, who heads the Internal Audit and Compliance Department.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1344294/jit-submits-panama-probe-report-to-sc-today

Dawn – Panama Papers JIT probe enters crucial, concluding stage

Inamullah Khattak

Islamabad, 2 July 2017. The powerful six-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) tasked with probing the business dealings of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his sons abroad is entering a crucial stage, with the investigation heading towards conclusion.

Sources told Dawn the JIT was in the process of winding up the probe by next week, after which it would finish compiling the final investigation report by the second week of July before it was submitted to the apex court by the July 10 deadline.

On Saturday, the JIT in its meeting reviewed the documents pertaining to the business and tax records of the Sharif family that were submitted by Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

In this regard, the JIT is summoning members of the Sharif family once again. The premier’s cousin Tariq Shafi will appear before the high-powered JIT on Sunday, when insiders said he will be re-examined over his statements recorded during his earlier appearance before the body.

And on Monday, the JIT consisting of members from SECP, National Accountability Bureau, State Bank of Pakistan, Military Intelligence, Inter-Services Intelligence and Federal Investigation Agency, has summoned Hussain Nawaz, the prime minister’s elder son.

Hassan Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz will appear before the body on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, in what officials said will be the concluding week of the JIT tasked with collecting evidence within two months.

Insiders told Dawn News that the JIT summoned members of Sharif family for the second time after investigators found contrast between statements recorded by them and the documents submitted by relevant government departments.

The JIT was formed by the Supreme Court after its verdict on the Panama Papers case was split 3-2 among a five-judge bench, with the two dissenting notes in the judgment authored by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed.

The two judges had ruled against Sharif, saying he should be disqualified, whereas the other three were in favour of forming a JIT.

Despite the hype over the JIT and its ongoing investigations, legal and investigation experts feel the report, once it is presented to the court, will simply be the beginning of a long process.

Legal experts feel that the JIT’s report, once it is completed, may lead to further hearings.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1342584/panama-papers-jit-probe-enters-crucial-concluding-stage

The News – Nawaz, Shahbaz staged ‘drama’ before JIT: Imran Khan

Islamabad, 17 June 2017. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said on Saturday that both Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif had staged a drama before the JIT.

While referring to Shahbaz Sharif without taking his name, the PTI chief said, “Whom are they befooling by wearing hat and mafia suit”.

Speaking to the media, Imran said leaders are always held accountable in a democracy and with the Sharif family appearing before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), it does not mean they are being victimised.

He said that 12 corruption cases were pending against Nawaz Sharif. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has also been implicated in a case.

The Sharif family had not appeared before the court themselves but they had been called in to appear, the PTI chief said.

Imran reiterated that the entire nation stands by the Supreme Court and the JIT.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/211168-Nawaz-Shahbaz-staged-drama-before-JIT-Imran

Dawn – In a first, PM Nawaz Sharif to appear before JIT on 15 June

Malik Asad & Sanaullah Khan

Islamabad, 12 June 2017. Nawaz Sharif is set to become the first sitting prime minister to appear before any investigating agency, when he appears before the joint investigation team (JIT), constituted to probe money-laundering allegations against his family, on Thursday.

The unprecedented development will make him the first incumbent to appear before such a panel, let alone one probing allegations of financial irregularities or fraud against nearly his entire family, going back three generations.

The summons was issued by the JIT on June 8, 2017 and asked the PM “to appear and associate with the JIT on Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 1100 hours, at the office of the JIT, Federal Judicial Academy, Service Road South, Sector H-8/4, Islamabad”.

The JIT’s summons also reminded the PM to “kindly bring along relevant record/documents/material” related to the Panama Papers case. This will entail nearly all the documents and evidence submitted before the Supreme Court by the PM’s counsel, Makhdoom Ali Khan.

Sources said that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar may also be questioned by the team before the PM’s appearance.

In its judgement of April 20 in the Panama Papers case, the Supreme Court had constituted a JIT and empowered it to summon the prime minister, his sons and any other person necessary, to investigate allegations of money-laundering, through which the four apartments in London’s Park Lane area were purchased.

The sources said that the JIT had summoned Dar last week, but could not record his statement.

Insiders said the six-member investigation team, headed by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) additional director general Wajid Zia, has issued another summons to Dar.

Talking to some TV channels on Sunday, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the PM had received the JIT summons and in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s order of April 20, he would ensure his presence accordingly.

The JIT has so far called about a dozen witnesses, including a number of people who Dar named in his “forced” confession, recorded by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in 2000.

Though Dar has disowned the statement, saying it was recorded under duress, the JIT has taken it seriously and summoned some of the people Dar allegedly used for money-laundering. These individuals included National Bank of Pakistan president Saeed Ahmed and Kashif Mehmood Qazi, a British citizen.

While Qazi refused to appear before the team for fear of his life, Ahmed recently recorded a statement before the JIT. The NBP president, however, complained about the JIT’s ‘indifferent’ behavior and said that he was kept waiting for hours while he was fasting, and that the JIT treated him as an offender.

Besides Ahmed, Tariq Shafi, a cousin of PM Sharif; and Javed Kayani, a friend of the Sharif family, have also complained that the JIT tried to force them to testify against the PM and his sons Hussain and Hassan Nawaz.

Hussain Nawaz had also filed the petition before the Supreme Court, challenging the presence of two JIT members — Bilal Rasool of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Amer Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), objecting to their presence. The apex court, however, dismissed his petition as being “premature”.

But the bench will take up on Monday (today) another petition, filed by the PM’s elder son, seeking the constitution of a commission to investigate the leak of his photograph.

The sources say the JIT has prepared an inquiry report on the Hussain Nawaz photo leak, which will be submitted before the court’s three-member bench on Monday.

The bench will also take up an application, filed by the JIT, where investigators have highlighted certain issues and problems they are facing in concluding the probe within the stipulated two-month timeframe.

Before this, only prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gillani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf have ever been summoned by a judicial forum, i.e. the Supreme Court. Ashraf was a respondent in the rental power case before NAB, but never personally appeared before investigators while in office.

PPP terms it a positive development

Punjab PPP President Qamar Zaman Kaira, in a press statement, said that the summoning of the PM before the JIT is a positive sign.

“The prime minister has a central role in the Panama case,” Kaira noted from Lahore.

“The JIT is going to ask important questions from the PM.”

Expressing concern regarding the hearing, the PPP Punjab president said, “I hope that this time nothing similar to what the PML-N did with the Supreme Court (SC) in the past will happen again.”

“We expect that the PML-N will not resort to any extreme tactics during the JIT hearing. The last time Nawaz Sharif presented himself to the Supreme Court it [the court] was attacked,” Kaira noted.

“No one should think of making provocations. If you are truthful then present yourself in earnest to the JIT.”

Expressing his dismay at the recent spike in outbursts against the investigators, Kaira added that people should refrain from subjecting the team to abuses.

“Some individuals from the PML-N are humiliating institutions; they should refrain from using such language,” the PPP stalwart added.

‘Critical that PM Sharif resign’

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan has asked Nawaz Sharif to resign after the JIT issued a summon the PM.

In a series of tweets posted on Sunday night, Khan congratulated the country over the investigating team’s decision to call the prime minister to appear before them.

“Congratulations to the nation as for the first time a serving PM [has been] brought under Rule of Law and summoned before JIT,” Khan tweeted.

In a subsequent tweet, the PTI chairman demanded that Sharif resigns until the investigation proceedings are completed.

“Critical that PM Sharif resign while the investigation is ongoing because the organisation represented in the JIT are subordinate to the PM. Major contradiction.”

This is not the first time since the Supreme Court’s split decision on the Panama case that Khan has asked the prime minister to resign.

In the moments after the SC’s verdict, Khan urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign for the duration of an investigation into how the Sharif family’s money was transferred to Qatar.

“I demand Nawaz Sharif resign… Until the JIT completes its probe,” Khan had said.

“If you’re cleared within 60 days, you can return.”

https://www.dawn.com/news/1338890/in-a-first-pm-nawaz-sharif-to-appear-before-jit-on-june-15