NationalVolume 12 Issue # 23

The JIT thunderbolt

The final report of the joint investigation team (JIT) has found Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his three children guilty of holding assets beyond their known sources of income, concealing assets and presenting forged papers to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It appears the prime minister will not only be disqualified, but the whole family, except his wife, would be jailed.

The JIT has obtained attested copies of documents from different countries, which will be impossible to reject at any forum. Documents attested by the UEA government reveal that Nawaz Sharif had obtained a work visa for Dubai and received salary even after becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He managed an offshore company, Capital FZE, from August 7, 2006, to April 20, 2014, but did not declare it in his income tax returns, wealth statements or nomination papers submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan. During the period, he also received AED 10,000 (Rs 286,000) salary every month.

His son Hussain Nawaz informed the investigators he had set up the offshore company to buy properties in the UAE, which was later dissolved even though the purpose for which it was created never materialized. He said no other family member was associated with the company. However, contrary to the Sharif family’s documents and official claims, the company remained functional until 2014. In this way, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was still working for a foreign company when he was elected as the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2013. On the basis of his employment, he had obtained a work visa (Iqama) for Dubai from July 5, 2009, to June 4, 2015.

The prime minister and his family also failed to produce information confirming “known sources of income” which “is prima facie tantamount to not being able to justify assets and the means of income”. The Sharif family submitted selective documents, which lacked substance and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) did not provide complete tax returns of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. Irregular movement of huge amounts was found in the shape of loans and gifts from companies based in Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates to the prime minister and his Pakistan-based companies. “The role of offshore companies is critically important, as six companies have been identified to be linked with the Sharif family business in the UK. The companies are mainly used for the inflow of funds into the UK-based companies, which not only acquired expensive properties in the UK from the funds but also revolve the funds amongst their companies in the UK, the USA, the UAE and Pakistan,” it noted.

“Financial details of his companies, banks and his declaration in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) prove that PM Nawaz Sharif is in possession of assets beyond known sources. He built assets and declared them in the name of his children when there was no plausible source of income of the prime minister or his children,” it observed. It also found that after the Sharif family’s political rejuvenation in 2007-8, funds were shifted from their UK and UAE empires to Pakistan in the forms of gifts in excess of Rs880 million. “Substantial funds were transferred in the accounts of the prime minister in the forms of gifts from his son Hussain Nawaz and accounts of the Hill Metal Establishment (a leading steel company in Saudi Arabia) taking advantage of tax exemption on foreign remittances.” The report also points out that the prime minister in his tax return in 2013 had claimed that he donated Rs100 million to his party and concealed the fact that he received back Rs45 million from the party account before the close of the financial year.

The JIT also rejected the prime minister’s claim that his business empire was based on the inherited money from his father who owned millions of rupees in the 1970s. “A financial analysis of Mian Muhammad Sharif does not substantiate his claim. An exorbitant hike in the build-up of his tax returns is not commensurate with his growth which leads to the presumption that this empire is based on illegal monetary sources.” It also observed the assets of the prime minister’s sons had increased phenomenally in the early 1990s with no declared source of income, as it was the period the Sharif family was part of the ruling elite. “This build-up of assets was through irregular means and Hassan was used as a proxy to build family assets.”

It also found damning indictment with serious consequences for Maryam Nawaz, daughter of the prime minister and his heir apparent. British Virgin Islands (BVI) has duly verified she is the beneficial owner of Nielsen and Nescoll companies, which also conducted forensic examination of the documents she produced before the JIT and found them forged. “Maryam Safdar has submitted fake and falsified documents to the JIT which is a criminal offense. The documents are decoys to manipulate facts and camouflage the truth. Hussain Nawaz and Capt. (R) Safdar as well as Maryam Safdar have also signed these falsified and misleading documents. Hasan Nawaz, having submitted these documents as Respondent No. 8 is also prima facie involved in manipulating and misleading the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” the JIT observed. Another aspect, which proved Maryam had provided forged documents to the court, was the font she used in her documents as the Calibri font was not available for the public use then. According to the record of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), she is also guilty of hiding her assets and tax evasion. She obtained loans worth millions of rupees despite having no source of income, and bought agricultural land whose income is exempted from tax from the funds that she received as a gift in 2008.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s wealth statement in 2008-9 showed an increase of 91 times in his assets from Rs9.11 million to Rs831.7 million. “This exorbitant leap in his asset is not clarified or supported by any plausible financial documents. His confessional statement regarding moneylaundering was based on facts.”

Though Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has not been accused of any crime in the report, yet the JIT has recommended re-opening three references against the Sharif family, including Hudaibiya Papers Mills and Hudaibiya Engineering case. Then there is the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case. These are money laundering cases and Punjab Chief Minister Shabaz Sharif will also be included in them later. The cases are based on solid evidence and will prove fatal for him, when investigated under the supervision of the Supreme Court. It appears his son, Hamza Shahbaz, will have to lead the party in the next election.