NationalVolume 12 Issue # 22

Alhamdu Lillah, Shahbaz Sharif is also part of Panamagate

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz unwittingly added to the problems for his family when he admitted the ownership of London flats after the Panama leaks in April last year. “Alhamdu Lillah, I own the flats and I had purchased them,” he proudly informed some TV anchors. A few days later, Hamza Shahbaz, son of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, sent text messages to anchors and said, “Alhamdu Lillah, the family of Shahbaz Sharif is not included in the Panama leaks.”

However, the joy of the Shahbaz Sharif family was short-lived and he had to appear before the joint investigation team (JIT) in connection with the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case, which is enough to prove that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif are guilty of money laundering. The London High Court’s 1999 verdict in the Hudaibiya Papers Mills loans, acquired through the Al-Towfeek Investment Fund, proves the Sharif family owned the London flats since 1999, but the prime minister’s children claim to have purchased or acquired them through a settlement with the Qatari royal family in 2006. The London court had proceeded against Shahbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif and Mian Muhammad Sharif for defaulting on a loan obtained from the Al-Towfeek Investment Fund in the name of Hudaibiya Paper Mills and had attached four properties of the Sharifs.

On the contrary, the Sharif family claims it had purchased the London flats after selling its business in Saudi Arabia in 2006. The money was transferred through legal channels to the UK where the offshore companies and London flats were bought. However, the UK High Court proves otherwise. How, it could have attached the flats if they were owned by the Qatari royal family? This is damning for the family.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s confessional statement against the Sharif family in 2000, also provides details of their money laundering. According to a court document, Senator Dar’s handwritten statement before a magistrate on April 25, 2000, alleged the Sharif brothers used the Hudaibiya Paper Mills as cover for money laundering during the late 1990s. The reference was made on the orders of the then President Pervez Musharraf, but it was shelved after the Sharif family was exiled in December 2000. The confessional statement of Ishaq Dar was recorded before a district magistrate in Lahore. He was brought to the court from a jail by Basharat Shahzad, who was then serving as assistant director in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

At one point in the 43-page statement, on the instructions of Mian Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, he says, “I opened two foreign currency accounts in the name of Sikandara Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi with the foreign currency funds provided by the Sharif family in the Bank of America by signing as Sikandara Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi”. He said that all instructions to the bank in the name of the two persons were signed by him under the orders of the “original depositors”, namely Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif. “The foreign currency accounts of Nuzhat Gohar and Kashif Masood Qazi were opened in Bank of America by Naeem Mehmood under my instructions (based on instructions of the Sharifs) by signing the same as Nuzhat Gohar and Kashif Masood Qazi.” Besides the foreign currency accounts, a previously opened foreign currency account of Saeed Ahmed, a former director of First Hajvari Modaraba Co. and close friend of Dar, who is now appointed as National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) president by the Nawaz government for his “services”, and of Mussa Ghani, the nephew of Dar’s wife, were also used to deposit huge foreign currency funds provided by the Sharif family to offer them as collateral to obtain different direct and indirect credit lines.

He had disclosed that the Bank of America, Citibank, Atlas Investment Bank, Al Baraka Bank and Al Towfeeq Investment Bank were used under the instructions of the Sharif family. He also confessed that he, along with his friends Kamal Qureshi and Naeem Mehmood, had opened fake foreign currency accounts in different international banks. He said $3.725 million in Emirates Bank, $ 8.539 million in Al Faysal Bank and $2.622 million were transferred to the accounts of Hudaibya Paper Mills. The case was also taken up by the Supreme Court during the hearing of the Panama case. However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer informed the court that Ishaq Dar had given the statement under duress and he could not be punished for it. To it, the court said if Dar had turned an approver in

the case, action could not be taken against him, but his confessional statement could be used against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family.

Hamza’s messages to anchors reflected rifts in the Sharif family. After the onset of the Panama leaks, only the prime minister, his children and ministers defended the charges initially, though without much success. Other family members remained silent. Tehmina Durrani, wife of Shahbaz Sharif, stunned the people of Pakistan when she urged the family to return all foreign and local wealth to the nation. In a series of tweets, she said that according to her point of view, keeping offshore accounts was an unethical act. “Doing something against the law is illegal while unethical acts are similar to selling your soul, the latter being a more grave offence,” she added and advised the Sharif family that the only way they could distance themselves from the allegations was to bring back to Pakistan the money saved in offshore accounts and foreign countries. Neither her husband nor his family reacted to the harsh criticism. However, many PML-N workers believed Tehmina Durrani had expressed her feelings with the consent of her husband.

However, when Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was summoned by the JIT for questioning, his tone changed suddenly and he accused it holding only one family accountable. “To hold a single family accountable is no accountability. I request the court to hold accountability without any discrimination,” he added. After appearing before the JIT, he claimed his family had faced accountability five times. According to the Panama leaks, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family owns nine companies in the name of his sons Hassan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and daughter Maryam Nawaz, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s relatives own seven, though he is not directly linked, However, the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case, with the London High Court verdict and Ishaq Dar’s confessional statement, could be more damaging for the Sharif family than the Panama case, because it contains solid and documentary evidence against them.