Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa has observed that the court is constitutionally empowered to ascertain the truth in the Panamagate, saying the onus of proof of the money trail of Mayfair properties lies with the Sharif family.
A five-member larger bench led by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa on Friday resumed the hearing of pleas of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami, Awami Muslim League and a lawyer Tariq Asad. Justice Khosa pointed out that the Article 184 (3) of the Constitution sufficiently empowers the apex court to dispense justice.
Resuming his arguments on behalf of PTI before the bench, Naeem Bokhari apprised the bench that Mariam Safdar, the daughter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is the ultimate beneficial owner of the London flats.
He claimed that Mariam Safdar had received loans from her father – Rs 31.7 million during 2011, Rs 51.6 million in 2012, and Rs 37.8 million in 2013. He added that during the year 2011, under the loans and advances from Chaudhry Sugar Mills, she received Rs 42.3 million. Bokhari stated the Prime Minister’s son Hassan Nawaz also gave Rs 28.9 million to Mariam Safdar.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed that the arguments of PTI’s counsel are appreciative but the piecemeal documents and the given information would not depict the complete picture of the plea. During the course of hearing, Bokhari also explained the internal correspondence between the reporting officer of Mossack Fonseca and the Financial Investigative Agency of the BVI, but Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that PTI lawyer was relying on the internal discussion of the law firm and the investigation agency.
Bokhari contended that Mariam is the ultimate beneficial owner of Neilsen and Nescoll companies, saying as per record, no Mayfair properties in London were rented out. According to him, Sharif family members were residing there, who are the owners of the properties.
Bokhari further said that it has been disclosed in response to a query of Mossack Fonseca from the Sharif family that the source of the family income has been spread over 60 years and their bank was Deutsch Bank, whereas Mariam Safdar has been the customer of Samba Bank since December 03, 2005.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan asked the PTI counsel that on January 05, he had cited the verdict of Queens High Court, London, that had said that in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case, Shahbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif and Mian Muhammad Sharif had paid millions of dollars for settling accounts payable to Al-Towfeek Investment Fund.
Responding to Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who observed that the court is interested to know how the properties were transferred in the name of Mariam Safdar, Bokhari said that the properties were transferred through Neilsen and Nescoll companies.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said that they want to inquire how and when Mariam Safdar became the ultimate beneficial owner of the companies, adding, “You want to place any documents regarding the claim, don’t you?”
Bokhari told the court that after utmost struggle his client was able to submit the latest documents before the court, adding that Mariam is the beneficial owner of Minerva Limited. To which Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh observed that Minerva Trust & Corporate Services Limited was the agent. Naeem Bokhari said that Mossack Fonseca took the details from Neilsen and Nescoll and according to them, she is not a Trustee or a Settler but a beneficial owner.
Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh told the PTI lawyer he had not clarified as to whether the Trust Deed is valid or invalid and added that if a person gives money to other then it would be called a Benami transaction. Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa cited the Section 122 of Qanoon-e-Shahadat, which provides for burden of proving fact, especially within knowledge.
Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh said the respondents would have to tell the court about the Trust Deed and the Share Certificates and if they don’t tell then the problem would be for them. Justice Sheikh added that the documents filed by both the parties are incomplete whereas Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed that apex court was not the trial or civil court.
Addressing Bokhari, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said that he has to satisfy the court about the authenticity of the documents, adding that the court cannot announce judgement in the matter on the basis of inadmissible documents like photocopies and emails. However, he made it clear that at this stage it would not be appropriate to determine the fate of documents without hearing to the other party.
Meanwhile, the counsel for Mariam Safdar, submitted a reply in the case, saying the Mayfair properties didn’t belong to his client, adding that Mariam Safdar is an authorised signatory but not a beneficiary owner of the Trust created in relation to the Avenfield House Flats London. The reply mentioned that Mariam Safdar was authorised to perform assigned roles in case of the demise of Hussain Nawaz.
She further informed that a Trust Deed was drawn up and signed by her on February 2, 2006 at Jeddah and sent to London where it was signed by Hussain Nawaz on February 4, 2006. She submitted through the reply that at no time did she visit the office of Minerva or met any of its officers, adding all meetings were attended and arrangements were finalised by Hussain Nawaz himself.
Rebutting the PTI’s ‘documentary’ evidence purporting to be a Nescoll company resolution signed by her, she termed the document an atrocious forgery. Mariam Safdar said that documents submitted by PTI about Nescol company were not on any letterhead of the company, saying neither it was an email nor was there an accompanying letter whereas there is a misspelling of “bearer as barer”. She further claimed that the PTI has not disclosed the source of the documents and termed it self evidently false.
Later, the hearing of matter was adjourned till January 09.