Panamagate case: NAB, FBR chairmen appear in Supreme Court

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ISLAMABAD: A five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa has resumed hearing of Panama Papers case.
National Accountability Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry and Federal Board of Revenue chairman Dr. Mohammad Irshad are present in the apex court.
During the case proceeding, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh questioned FBR chairman as to when the concerned authorities contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over Panama leaks issue. He also asked that when notices were served to the owners of offshore companies.
Dr Irshad informed the apex court that notices were issued to 343 individuals on September 2, 2016.
Names of directors of offshore companies are not enough in this regard as directors of 49 companies are not present in Pakistan while 52 others have denied any ownership. “Who responded when notices were issued to Sharif family,” asked Justice Asif Saeed.
FBR chairman replied that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s children Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz responded to the notices.
Maryam Nawaz claimed that she does not own any offshore company or property abroad, he added.
It may be mentioned here that the counsels of the prime minister, his children, PTI and Jamaat-e-Islami have completed their arguments in the case.
“Prove your actions with the help of records,” said Justice Gulzar. “What steps were undertaken by you after the replies were submitted?” he asked.
The bench seemed irked at the FBR’s delay in carrying out its task as it stated that the bureau had taken a year to complete a job that could be finished within hours. “Whatever the FBR is doing, is in front of everyone,” remarked Justice Gulzar. “For how long has a person remained abroad, can be discovered in a minute,” he added. “When and to which institute did you write the letter to demand travel history? Produce the record,” asked Justice Gulzar.
The FBR lawyer admitted that he did not have the record to produce before the bench. The court asked him whether he needed the Supreme Court’s interference to enhance the scope of the investigation.
The FBR lawyer replied that the issue was pending in the Supreme Court hence it caused complication.
“We admit immediate steps were not taken,” stated the FBR lawyer. “The confirmation of 39 foreign-based companies’ owners could not be done,” he added.
“In other words, what you are saying is that the FBR has done nothing with regard to money laundering?” inquired the bench.
The FBR lawyer stated that there were separate laws and institute to tackle the issue of money laundering to which Justice Ejaz Afzal replied:-
“Where the FBR wants to take action, it takes it immediately. You should have taken action immediately.”
Justice Khosa remarked that had any institute done its job, then the case would not have come to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the first place.
During the last hearing, the Supreme Court had ordered NAB and FBR chairmen to appear in person in the court and present the record of money laundering cases against Sharif family and Hudabiya Mills.

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