As the Supreme Court’s hearing of the Panamagate case resumed on Thursday, the judges presiding on the case persisted in their efforts to ascertain whether or not Hussain Nawaz, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s eldest son, is the owner of four flats located in London’s upscale Park Lane neighbourhood.
“Where is the actual document that shows that Hussain Nawaz […] is the owner of the four London flats?” the five-member larger bench of the apex court, exasperated by the repetitive arguments being advanced before it by both prosecution and defense attorneys, had asked the day before.
The bench had also asked Salman Akram Raja, the counsel representing Hussain, to “show the court the relevant documents that reveal who paid Minerva Financial Services,” the holding company for two off-shore entities that own the flats in question.
In Thursday’s hearing, Raja submitted documents purporting to show the services rendered by Minerva Services to the two companies, Nielsen Enterprises Ltd and Nescoll Ltd.
Documents purporting to show the ownership of the Park Lane flats in London were also submitted before the five-member bench.
The documents appear to show the ownership of the flats in question since the year 2006, and state that the payment for the flats was made to Minerva Services by Arrina Company through Barclays Bank. The payments were made to Minerva Services in 2014, the documents state.
After submitting the documents, Raja told the court that Maryam Nawaz, PM Sharif’s daughter, had remained a trustee of the Minerva Financial Services Ltd between February and July 2006.
Registered shares were issued in July 2006 and Minerva Services had appointed directors to Nielsen and Nescoll Ltd, the advocate added. The lawyer told the bench that in 2014, the shares were transferred from Minerva to the trustee.
“Was the trust deed rendered obsolete by the transfer of shares?” Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked Raja. The judge was referring to a trust deed dated Feb 2, 2006, signed by Maryam Nawaz, showing her as a trustee of the two off-shore companies.
“Even if Maryam Nawaz was a dependent on her father, it does not prove that she is the owner of the London flats [owned by Nielsen and Nescoll Ltd],” the lawyer told the court.
“We will want to look at the investment for Hussain Nawaz’s expensive properties in London’s posh area. If Maryam Nawaz was acting as the representative of her brother, then we will want to see those documents as well,” the bench remarked.
In response, the lawyer referred the bench to a trust deed that was executed between Maryam and Hussain Nawaz.
“It seems that the documents released by Mossack Fonseca were prepared through fraud, ” Advocate Salman added.
“Even Maryam Nawaz has said her signature on the documents is fake,” he added.
He was referring to documents purporting to show Maryam Nawaz’s involvement with Minerva Financial Services highlighted by German daily, Süddeutsche Zeitung, in a tweet in January.
Maryam Nawaz’s counsel, Shahid Hamid, had argued before the court that that signatures on the documents in question are fake.
“Documents submitted in the court showing Maryam Nawaz is the beneficial owner of the flats are fake,” the advocate claimed.
“Are you saying that the chain relating to the flats has been established?” Justice Khosa asked.
“Hussain Nawaz did not have investment to purchase the london flats,” Justice Ijaz Afzal remarked.
The lawyer in response told the court Hussain Nawaz acquired the property in turn for the investments in Qatar.
“If documents submitted by Naeem Bokhkari [representing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf] are accepted, what will you do,” Justice Ijaz Afzal asked the lawyer.
“You should then go to Rawal Dam to catch fish,” Justice Sheikh Azmat said.
The lawyer told the court that it is not possible that the documents submitted by the prosecution will be accepted.
“We will not concern ourselves with anything or anyone except the law,” the court said. “This bench may not last but the law will.”
“This case has been going on for some time now due to this reason. It is a matter of billions and you are saying there are no documents,” the court reprimanded the lawyer, stating that he was wasting their time.
Justice Khosa asked the lawyer whether not submitting documents was his strategy.
“If it is not a strategy, it is gambling,” Justice Ijaz Afzal quipped.
“It is not a strategy,” the lawyer responded as he completed his arguments.