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Panama leaks case hearing today

06 December, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Court resumes hearing the Panama Papers leaks case on Tuesday, both the petitioners, including Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan, and the defendants, the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, may request the larger bench to hold day-to-day proceedings.

At the outset of the court session, senior counsel Naeem Bokhari will recommence on behalf of the PTI his arguments before the five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali.

A request for daily hearings has become all the more necessary since Advocate Salman Aslam Butt, who represents the prime minister, has sought an adjournment of the case from Dec 12 to 19, according to PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry.

Both parties likely to request the bench to conduct day-to-day hearings to ensure that case winds up before the chief justice’s farewell reference on Dec 15
The chief justice would reach superannuation on Dec 30, but his farewell reference would be held on Dec 15, Mr Chaudhry told Dawn. “Thus we can assume that the chief justice may not be available on the bench after the middle of this month,” he said.

On the other hand, senior counsel Akram Sheikh, who represents the three children of the prime minister — Maryam, Hussain and Hassan Nawaz — said that although he would wait for his turn after the petitioners conclude their arguments, “we will plead before the court to close the proceedings by conducing day-to-day hearings since the respondent who happens to be the head of the government has come under a cloud as a result of which the state of Pakistan is suffering badly internationally”.

“It is a national loss,” the counsel said, adding that, therefore, he would implore the court not to adjourn the case until its conclusion.

Mr Chaudhry said his party’s lead counsel Bokhari might take about an hour, depending on the situation, to conclude his arguments in which he would attack the trust deed of Feb 2, 2006 signed by Maryam Nawaz in which she was shown as a trustee of Hussain’s companies Nescoll and Nielson Enterprises but at the same as a 49 per cent shareholder of a company called Coomber Group.

“Our prime focus in the case is two pronged,” he said, adding that the first issue was to question from where the prime minister got the money to invest for acquiring the four Park Lane flats in London and second from where Hussain Nawaz got money to run his business empire.

As usual, Imran Khan, Jehangir Tareen and other important leaders of the PTI are likely to attend Tuesday’s proceedings.

Meanwhile, Mr Sheikh submitted an application in line with an earlier court query regarding certain documents with an intention to establish that the actual price of all the four flats then was 1.905 million pounds that amounted to a maximum of Rs120m at the time mentioned.

“We have submitted the documents since Mr Khan in his petition had claimed that billions of rupees were skimmed to launder and get the flats in London,” he said.

According to the land registry of May 7, 1993 under the Land Registration Acts 1925 to 1986 of London, 585,000 pounds were paid by Nescoll Ltd to acquire the ownership of 17, Avenfield House, 118/127 Park Lane, London. The earlier owner of the flat was Herby Transfers. Likewise, the property of 16 and 16A, Avenfield House, Park Lane, was registered on July 10, 1995 for 1.075m pounds to be transferred to Nielson Enterprises Ltd. The previous owner of that property was Delfina Limited. Whereas the property 17A, Avenfield House, Park Lane, was registered on July 5, 1996 in favour of Nescoll Ltd for 245,000 pounds. The previous owner of the property was Aksala NV of Chuchubiweg, Netherlands Antilles. Added together, the counsel said, the amount was 1.9m pounds.

During the previous hearings, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed had inquired about the land registry of the flats so that their previous owners could be identified.

On Dec 3, Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq also submitted a fresh application with a request to constitute an inquiry commission and make a party in the case all the family members, including children, companies and business entities of those whose names had surfaced in the leaks about offshore holdings.

The application requested the court to order the Federal Board of Revenue as well as the Election Commission of Pakistan to submit the copies of tax returns, including details of assets in and out of the country, along with the copies of relevant documents, before the court and the commission of all those who became parties in the case.

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