What’s Been Happening?
Last year, the infamous Panama Papers were leaked. 11.5 million documents from a Panama law firm called Mossack Fonseca were released to the public which included details of eight offshore companies that have ties to the family of Nawaz Sharif, the incumbent Prime Minister of Pakistan.
The controversy surrounds the purchases made by these offshore accounts, one of which were luxury apartments in London’s exclusive Mayfair area. In the subsequent trial that has taken months so far, opposition leaders have alleged that the money used for the real estate purchases was obtained through corruption.
After some months of deliberation, it was determined by the Supreme Court of Pakistan that further investigation needs to be conducted into corruption allegations. As a result, a six member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was formed under the supervision of a three-member special implementation bench on 20 April 2017
On the 10th of July, the JIT presented a scathing 275-page report that charged Sharif and his family members of engaging in irregular finances, forgery and perjury. It also recommended that the Sharifs be tried for corruption.
Some documents that were submitted by Sharif’s family appeared to be tampered with:
- A trust deed provided by the prime minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and executed in 2006 was written in Calibri font which was not commercially available till 2007. It was also notarised from an office in London on Saturday which is officially an off day, raising concern about the authenticity of the document.
- The documents of Gulf Steel Mills provided by the prime minister’s son Hussain Nawaz were confirmed to be forged by the government of Dubai as they held no record of those documents.
- A letter sent by a Qatari Royal supposedly verifying the business dealings of the Sharif family is alleged to be fake. Further supporting this allegation is the failure of the key witness to agree to record his statement via video link to JIT and was unwilling to visit the Pakistan embassy in Doha.
It is a criminal offence to falsify documents which carry a penalty of up to seven years of jail if the person is found guilty. Sharif dismissed the JIT report as the “sum of hypotheses, accusations and slander”. Upon the release of the report, the opposition leader Imran Khan hopes that next week will be (Mr Sharif’s) last week.
The report highlights the failure of the Sharif family in providing a money trail for its London apartments. All eyes will be on the Supreme Court who may disqualify him as Prime Minister. Another scenario could be that the Supreme Court expresses no confidence in the findings released through the damning JIT report. At this stage, it is very unlikely that Nawaz Sharif will step down as Prime Minister as he is adamant that no wrongdoing has been proven and so the case continues…