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Pakistan SC rejects objections raised by Sharif’s son against Panama Papers probe team

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-05-2017 Sajjad Hussain

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the objections raised by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son against two members of a team investigating the Sharif family’s overseas businesses in connection with the Panama Papers case.

Hussain Nawaz had sought the removal of two members of the six-member joint investigation team (JIT) the court had appointed in April to investigate corruption allegations against the members of the Sharif family.

A three-member special bench heard the Hussain’s plea in which he had said that Bilal Rasool of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Amer Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan should be removed as members of the JIT, alleging that they were not impartial.

He had said the presence of these two members may affect the fairness and impartiality of the JIT and its findings.

Hussain’s counsel, Khawaja Haris, had alleged before the bench that the two members have been “abusive”, Dawn reported.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who headed the bench, dismissed the accusation and ordered the JIT to continue its probe. Khan also said the two members were experts in white-collar crime.

“We will not change any member of the JIT, nor will we prevent someone from doing their work,” the judge remarked, drawing attention to the fact that a special bench of the Supreme Court has appointed the six members of the JIT.

“Whether it is the prime minister or an ordinary citizen, nobody is above the law,” he added.

The JIT submitted an initial report before the apex court on 22 May and was told to complete the probe in 60 days. It has to submit a fortnightly progress report to the court.

The case against the Sharifs relates to alleged money laundering in the 1990s when Nawaz Sharif twice served as prime minister. The JIT was formed last year after the names of his children appeared in the leaked Panama Papers, which documented the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful.

Prime Minister Sharif has denied any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile at the hearing today, Federal Investigation Agency’s additional director General Wajid Zia, who heads the JIT, told the Supreme Court that Qatari royal Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani has not appeared before the investigating team.

Two letters signed by the Qatari royal have been presented before the court by the Sharifs to establish the legitimate money trail for the London apartments, that are at the heart of the corruption allegation.

Justice Khan said that if the Qatari royal did not appear before the JIT, his letters would be thrown out. PTI

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