The children of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could face up to seven years in jail if it was proved that they had submitted fake documents to the Panama panel probing the money laundering allegations against the family, the Supreme Court warned on Thursday.
The apex court heard the Panamagate scandal case for the fourth consecutive day since the hearing began on Monday, following submission of a report by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on July 10, which was tasked by the court to probe allegation of corruption against Sharif and his family.
“The punishment for submitting forged documents in the court is seven years in jail,” warned the three-member panel of judges. The JIT among other things has observed that some of the documents submitted by the children of Sharif, 67, were 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. Similarly, Government of Dubai has revealed that the documents of Gulf Steel Mills provided by the prime minister’s son Hussian Nawaz were forged as there was no record of those documents.
Justice Ejaz Afzal is heading the probe panel comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan. They also warned Salman Akram Raja, the lawyer of Sharif’s children, against a media trial in the case after some of the documents presented by him were leaked to media and were discussed in talk shows on Wednesday. “You have been conducting a trial in the media and the documents (submitted to the court) have already been discussed in the media,” said Justice Saeed. “There is a media dais outside, you should give your arguments there as well,” he told Raja, who assured the court that he had not released any documents to media. Meanwhile, Raja presented his arguments in details. The arguments were still going on when the court adjourned the proceedings till Friday.
The judges on Thursday again asked the Sharif family to provide the money trail of its various businesses in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UK. “The main question is where did the money for these businesses came,” asked the panel.
Later, Fawad Chaudhry, member of a legal team representing Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), told media outside the court after the hearing that the hearing might be completed by tomorrow. “For us the case is over. Sharif would have to go home and then jail for corruption. His children would also land in jail for forgery,” he said.
Minister of State for Information Marriyam Aurangzeb said that the prime minister has been vindicated as there is no proof of any corruption against him. “The prime minister was accused of money laundering and corruption but none of the allegations have been proved,” she said.
The scandal surfaced when the Panama Papers leaks last year revealed that Sharif’s sons — Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz — and his daughter Maryam — owned offshore companies which managed their family’s properties. The assets in question include four expensive flats in Park Lane, London.
Opposition parties allege that the London flats were purchased through illegal money which Sharif and his family have rejected. However, they have been unable to satisfy the court about the source of money used to purchase these properties.