PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif defended Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani in an accountability court hearing on Tuesday, saying that Al-Thani was ready to be a part of the joint investigation team’s (JIT) investigation but the investigator did not record his statement.
Nawaz and his family members are facing three references — for their Avenfield properties, the Al-Azizia Steel mills and one for Flagship Investment Co — filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) under the directives of the Supreme Court in its July 28, 2017 Panama Papers judgement.
The PML-N supremo has been asked to record his final statement in the Avenfield reference under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code and to produce, on record, anything contradicting the statements of the 19 prosecution witnesses in the case.
Sharif had on Monday denied ownership of the London properties and told the court that he had not been privy to any transactions for the acquisition of the properties.
Testifying before the accountability court in the Avenfield property reference for the second consecutive day today, Sharif said that even though he was not involved in any transaction or correspondence regarding the investment with Qatari royal family, the record, however, “clearly shows that Qatari prince never avoided joining the JIT’s proceeding”.
Sharif claimed that Al-Thani actually “showed willingness to meet the JIT but at his palace in Qatar rather than in Pakistan or the Pakistani embassy”.
He accused Wajid Zia of falsely stating in his report that Qatari prince did not join the investigation, adding that “there is not an iota [of truth] to prove that allegation.”
“Wajid Zia resorted to blatant lying to justify his glaring omission,” he added.
Sharif deposed before the court that the entire statement of Zia was based on his opinion, inferences and that the conclusion drawn by him and the JIT was inadmissible.
Sharif further accused Zia of misleading the UAE government instead of seeking information regarding the transportation of machinery from Dubai to Saudi Arabia.
Regarding the money trail of the London flats, Sharif testified that “I have no personal knowledge of any event and transaction relating to Dubai Steel Mills. I have seen copies of these agreements. However, I was never participating in any event and don’t have personal knowledge.”
Nonetheless, “the Qatari prince has responded to each of the letters and confirmed the veracity of the content submitted before the Supreme Court,” Sharif said.
It may be mentioned that Al-Thani had stated that the London properties were handed over to the Sharif family out of a settlement stemming from a sum of AED12 million which the Sharif family had invested with them in 1980.
Sharif reiterated that he had no involvement or association with the acquisition of the London apartments, adding that there is nothing on record or in the title of land register that London properties have ever been in his name.
The former PM also told the court that he was neither a beneficiary nor the real owner of offshore companies Nescoll and Nielsen.
Sharif told the accountability court that UK solicitor Akhtar Riaz Raja had sent to forensic expert Robert William Radley the photocopies of two trust deeds related to the aforementioned offshore companies.
He further said that despite the fact that the photocopy of a document could not be forensically examined, Robert William Radley, “with ulterior motive”, “proceeded to prepare the report instead of regretting to examine the photocopies sent via email”.
It is pertinent to mention here that Radley had called the veracity of the trust deed into question. Among his reservations were the observations that it had been written in the Calibri font, which was not commercially available at that time, and some over-writing on the date the trust deed was supposed to have been signed.
Sharif said that Jeremy Freeman, another UK solicitor, in January 2017 had admitted and confirmed the genuineness of the trust deed but neither Raja nor any member of the JIT or NAB made any effort to obtain the copies of the trust deed from him.
Sharif also termed the document regarding Capital FZE, the company where he was working as chairman, as “irrelevant”.
In response to a question that both of his sons — Hussain Nawaz and Hasan — are absconders, Sharif replied “both are sui juris (independent) and answerable to their own acts.”
In all, Sharif, till the rising of the court, had responded to 123 questions out of the list of 128.
The proceedings will continue on Wednesday.