Pakistan SC says single-member commission to probe Panama leaks

The bench Thursday said a single-member commission will be formed to probe revelations made in the Panama Papers after reviewing all replies.

By: PTI | Islamabad | Published:November 3, 2016 6:34 pm
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Pakistan’s Supreme Court today said a single-member commission will probe allegations made against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family in the Panama Papers case and expressed strong displeasure at the failure of his children to respond to the charges. A five-member bench hearing five identical petitions against Sharif and his family for having illegal assets abroad had directed them on Monday to submit written response.

The bench Thursday said a single-member commission will be formed to probe revelations made in the Panama Papers after reviewing all replies. A final decision on it will be made on Monday after the court reviews the Terms of Reference and responses submitted by the premier’s children.

Sharif’s counsel Salman Ahmed Butt today submitted the premier’s response in court along with that of his son-in-law Muhammad Safdar. But his daughter Maryam and son Hussain and Hasan failed to comply.

The Prime Minister denied holding any offshore companies and maintained that he is a regular taxpayer. He said that he had declared all his assets in 2013, so he was not liable for disqualification under the Constitution. He contended that none of his children was dependent on him. When asked why they have not responded, Sharif’s counsel said Maryam, Hussain and Hasan were out of the country.

The bench then expressed its displeasure and asked for submission of responses by Monday so the case can proceed. The court announced that the commission to probe the so-called Panamagate scandal will be headed by an apex court judge and will hold powers equivalent to the apex court. The next hearing will be held on Monday.

The petitions have been filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan and others. They have accused that Panama leaks showed Maryam, Hussain and Hasan having offshore companies which managed their properties abroad. They said that the foreign assets were made through illegal transfer of money from Pakistan by Sharif and he should be disqualified for tax evasions and fraud.

Sharif has denied the charges but has failed to order independent probe which forced the Supreme Court to intervene and take up the case. The probe is expected to start next week.