Thursday, 5 July 2018
JIT/NAB failed to prove any allegation they levelled against Sharifs, Ahmad Noorani
JIT/NAB failed to prove any allegation they levelled against Sharifs
No conclusive evidence could be presented regarding any allegation.
All witnesses presented by NAB/JIT testified against what NAB/JIT claimed while framing the charges
ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials argue on the basis of the Panama JIT report findings that the case against Sharifs is strong as they failed to answer some key questions still the marathon accountability court proceedings, proofs submitted by NAB and documents of the Panama JIT show that no evidences could be furnished to prove any wrongdoing at the part of accused persons.
Benami ownership of Nawaz Sharif:
The only major allegation of ‘benami’ ownership of Nawaz Sharif of London flats totally demolished as all the witnesses presented by NAB themselves admitted that neither they have nor they ever come across any information or evidence whatsoever suggesting that in fact Nawaz was the benami owner of this UK property. After prosecution completely failed to substantiate this basic allegation, the defence (Sharifs) opted not to present any witness in their favour stating that prosecution couldn’t even establish the charge and the prosecution witnesses themselves testified against what NAB was alleging.
Overall viewpoint of NAB:
NAB officials and those close to the JIT insist that despite repeated admissions of the JIT head Wajid Zia before the accountability court that no connection of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could be established with London flats or related transactions, Sharif family failed to answer some basic questions which has weakened their case. According to the JIT and NAB, these points/questions include; how Nawaz children bought London flats, how the money reached in London i.e the money trail, investment was impossible because of the BCCI loan default, how money was invested with Qatari family and finally if Nawaz failed to prove how his children made these assets, he is punishable under the NAB law. Documents, the case proceedings and the evidences submitted by the NAB however tell a different story.
How teenager Children bought London flats when they didn’t have any source of income – NAB Vs Sharifs
Though NAB, on the basis of the JIT’s opinion, insists that these were children of Sharif family who bought the London flats in early 1990s, in the first place, there is not even single admissible evidence that children bought these flats in 1990s.
Though huge electronic and social media campaigns were run on this point that how the teenagers bought flats, NAB completely failed to come up with any evidence that flats were bought by children in 1990s.
There was one document in the Panama Papers showing Maryam Nawaz as beneficial owner since 2006 of the offshore companies which own London flats. This letter was from a service provider firm written in response to a query from Financial Investigation Agency of BVI (FIA of BVI). According to the statement of Sharifs, Maryam Nawaz was trustee of this property and offshore companies are owned by Hussain Nawaz since 2006 when London flats came in his ownership following distribution of property of Mian Muhammad Sharif, the grandfather of Hussain. Sharifs have pleaded that this letter in Panama Papers was not an official document but was the wrong understanding of some employee of a service provider firm which the firm sent to the FIA of BVI.
When the JIT couldn’t get any official confirmation regarding the ownership of these offshore companies from BVI government or related government departments, it simply sent these letters present in Panama Papers to the FIA of BVI and simply asked whether these letters were present in its record. It is matter of record that the JIT didn’t even ask the BVI authorities as to who is the beneficial owner of these offshore companies. The letters were actually present there and there was no confusion regarding their presence in the record of FIA of BVI.
FIA of BVI responded in positive regarding presence of the letters in its record and the JIT, simply on this basis, alleged that Maryam Nawaz was the beneficial owner of these offshore companies. On the other hand, Sharifs provided letters of the current service provider firm that Hussain Nawaz is the beneficial owner of these offshore companies since 2006. Sharifs never denied the ownership of flats after 2006.
In recent proceedings, Sharifs have submitted along with documentary evidences that that flats are owned by Hussain Nawaz and he will provide all the details. It was also submitted by the Sharifs that the flats came in the ownership of Hussain Nawaz as a result of the property distribution of Mian Muhammad Sharif, the grandfather of Hussain Nawaz, so neither there is any link of Nawaz Sharif with acquiring these flats nor he can be asked to provide any more details. However, Sharif family presented complete details and money trail before the JIT.
NAB hasn’t furnished any single evidence to prove this statement of Sharifs wrong.
Trust Deed is fake – The Calibri font Issue – NAB Vs Sharifs
Another allegation levelled by NAB to prove the statement of Sharifs as wrong was that the trust deed showing Maryam Nawaz as trustee is fake. The JIT and NAB presented the report of a UK forensic expert as evidence. However, the same also proved untrue during the cross examination of the concerned witness.
Robert William Radley, a British forensic expert was cross examined in the accountability court regarding use of Calibri font in a trust deed prepared in 2006. It was alleged by the JIT and then by NAB that Calibri font was made commercially available in 2007 so the trust deed prepared in 2006 could not be typed using Calibri font and hence it is fake. During his cross examination, Radley first admitted that Calibri font was available for download in 2006 and even in 2005 but only IT experts used to download it. When Radley was asked whether he downloaded the same font in 2005, he responded “Yes”. When asked whether he was an IT expert, he replied, “No”. This grounded the case of the JIT and NAB on this count. However, NAB officials insist that bureau has a case against Maryam Nawaz on this count.
How money reached in London i.e the money trail is missing – NAB Vs Sharifs
According to the NAB officials, money trail of London Flats is missing and Sharifs failed to prove before the JIT as to how the money reached in London.
The money trail, starting from early 1970’s investment of Mian Muhammad Sharif in Dubai by setting up Gulf Steel Mills, has been explained by the Sharifs. The same will have to be accepted or proven wrong.
The only major point presented by the JIT is that when 75% shares of Gulf Steel Mills was sold and it became Ahli Steel Mills, it was facing losses. According to the JIT, after selling its remaining 25% shares of Sharifs in Ahli Steel Mills, Sharifs were supposed to pay off debt of around 14 million dirham to the bank BCCI and thus they were having no money to make further investment. This point is beyond ridiculous for any sane person as if a huge business is facing losses, it never means that value of all the assets of that business has also become zero. Secondly, when a business is sold, it is sold along with its assets as well as liabilities. According to the statements of the Sharifs, they got 12 million dirham by selling remaining shares after all adjustments of liabilities. This money was later invested in Qatar according to the Sharif’s statements. The JIT couldn’t come up with a single evidence to prove it wrong except the strangest interpretation of a business transaction.
The JIT admitted in its report that because of this very reason (that according to JIT’s understanding there remained no money for further investment), they didn’t even investigate the Sharifs’ claim of a subsequent investment with Qatari Royal family as they were certain that after selling shares of business in UAE, Sharifs were left with no money to invest so whole story of investment in Qatar was fake. Sharifs had also informed the JIT that there was a huge quantity of raw material which was handed over to Ahlis at the time of final adjustment in 1980 while selling remaining 25% shares along with all liabilities and agreeing to receive 12 million dirham.
The basic question is the Gulf Steel Mills is a reality known internationally as the major steel business in Gulf at that time. Where the money went if it was not invested in Qatar? If Tariq Shafi hasn’t received 12 million dirham as reflected in a response from a UAE Authority acquired by the JIT through a twisted question, where the 25% shares in Ahli Steel Mills gone missing? Question arises whether these 25% shares were simply gifted to the UAE invester, the Ahlis? And most importantly, why the JIT hesitated to take the statement of the owner of Ahli Steel Mills despite of the fact that he was present and willing to be testified?
If there was an investment with the Qatari family, which the JIT hesitated to investigate, this Qatari family is the biggest investor in real estate in London and still has large number of properties in the Great Briton’s capital. So if the investment was made in 1980 and according to the statement of Sharifs and Qatari prince, the adjustment of the investment was made in 2006 in the shape of transferring the ownership of the flats to Sharifs, there remains no question of transfer of money to London.
There is only one question and that is about the understanding of the JIT that when a business is sold, the liabilities of that business are not the part of the sale agreement. This really is a new business concept.
The question of how the money was transferred to London becomes irrelevant as the Qatari family who received the investment in 1980s has huge investments in London in the real estate in all these years.
NAB deputy prosecutor Zulfiqar Bhutta while talking to The News said that Sharifs should have submitted the documents of the concerned bank to prove their case which they couldn’t. On the question that when the said bank was closed some 25 years before, how the bank documents can be furnished now to establish this point when other documentary evidence is presented, Bhutta said the children of Sharif family could have appeared before the court to record their statements. It is important to mention here that Nawaz Sharif lawyer has pleaded before the court that as flats are property of Hussain Nawaz acquired by him as inheritance so Nawaz Sharif cannot be dragged into this issue. He also pleaded that NAB hasn’t furnished any single evidence to prove any connection of Nawaz Sharif with London flats and instead prosecution witnesses repeatedly admitted that neither they ever come across not they have any information that Nawaz Sharif ever was a benami owner of these flats.
However, on this point, the NAB officials say that keeping this aside, there is sufficient evidence against Sharifs.
BCCI loan default and Sharifs failure to furnish BCCI documents – NAB Vs Sharifs
JIT head Wajid Zia, in response to repeated question of Khawaja Haris that JIT couldn’t belie Sharifs’ investment with Qatari royal family, said that Sharif family was left with no money as it had to pay off loan and that it couldn’t present any BCCI document to prove its statements.
This confusion of the JIT has been discussed above and if the BCCI which was closed in 1991 exists no more and no document can be obtained from it, the same cannot be made basis to admit an imaginary story made up by the JIT in a situation where all other relevant documents are provided to the JIT.
Former deputy prosecutor of NAB Raja Amir Abbas on the question of novel understanding of the JIT and NAB regarding a business transaction according to which liabilities could be adjusted while selling a business and that BCCI has been closed down since decades, said that this very point has to be decided by the court and he will not comment on it.
Qatari Prince didn’t appear before the JIT – NAB Vs Sharifs
According to the NAB officials, Qatari prince failed to appear before the JIT despite he was given different options. No evidence of financial transaction has been provided to the JIT explaining how the money was invested with the father of the Qatari prince and how it finally reached in London.
As a matter of fact, the JIT in its report has admitted that though there were problems in testifying the Qatari prince, it was not interested in investigating the investment in Qatar because of its understanding that Sharifs were left with no money after selling remaining 25% shares as they were to return the BCCI loan. It is also on record that the Qatari prince gave different options to the JIT for recording his statement but the JIT members remained reluctant clearly because of the above mentioned reason.
Raja Amir Abbas was of the view that it was responsibility of the accused persons to prove them innocent by presenting witnesses and proofs which they haven’t. Raja Amir Abbas maintained that it was a different case and was not well handled by the Sharifs.
Twisted JIT question sent to other countries to get desired answers in order to mislead courts:
Besides, all these points, all the correspondence of the JIT with the UAE authorities, which is also made basis of proving the statement of the Sharifs wrong regarding their investments in the UAE in 1970s and subsequent investment in Saudi Arabia, were obtained by asking twisted and irrelevant questions.
Like the JIT wrote to the UAE port authorities to seek information of transportation of some of the factory machinery from UAE to the Saudi Arabia in the given dates. However, Sharifs had informed the JIT that the machinery was transported by road. Sharifs were shocked to see the response of UAE authorities negating any transportation through port as they never claimed any transportation through the port. Later, members of the Sharif family shared with media the original receipts of a transportation company of the transportation of the machinery through roads in early 2000s.
Apparent motive behind framing concocted charges:
Basically, the JIT through its investigations tried to prove that there was no solid investment of Sharifs in the UAE at that time. Keeping the JIT’s findings aside, the Gulf Steel Mills was the first major investment in the steel sector in the Gulf region at that time which is an internationally admitted fact. Apparently, it seems that all these concocted allegations were framed as part of strategy of rigging 2018 general elections to install a puppet government in Islamabad.