Islamabad had been abuzz with nervous excitement as the Pakistani Supreme Court ordered a JIT probe of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family in relation to corruption allegations that came to fore from the Panama Papers which implicated three out of four children of Sharif, including his daughter and presumptive political heir Maryam Safdar.
The focus of this particular SC probe had been the Sharif family properties based in London, purchased through these offshore firms. Sharif and family have denied any wrongdoing and have dismissed the claims as being politically motivated, even as controversy has long surrounded this industrial family — known to be one of Pakistan’s richest. Their businesses have included steel, sugar and paper mills, along with extensive holdings outside Pakistan and they have been accused over time of corruption, ownership of illegal properties, tax avoidance and money laundering. Here are four things from the Panama Papers about the Sharif family’s UK assets that you need to know:
*Three children of Nawaz Sharif — Maryam, Hasan and Hussain — were revealed to be owners or had the right to issue transactions for several offshore companies.
*Maryam Safdar was found to be the beneficial owner of British Virgin Islands-based firms Nielsen Enterprises Limited and Nescoll Limited, incorporated in 1994 and 1993. Sharif’s first term as the Pakistani Prime Minister had ended in 1993. The ICIJ page states that the companies owned “a UK property each for use by the family” of the companies’ owners.
*Maryam and Hussain had signed a document dated June 2007 that was part of a series of transactions in which Deutsche Bank Geneva lent up to $13.8 million to Nescoll, Nielsen and another company, with their London properties as collateral. These two companies were then transferred to another agent in July 2014.
*In February 2007, Hasan Nawaz Sharif had been the sole director of Hangon Property Holdings Limited incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, with the Liberia-based firm Cascon Holdings Establishment Limited as a shareholder. Later that year, Cascon Holdings transferred its shares in Hangon Property Holdings back to Hasan Nawaz Sharif for about $11.2 million.