News Analysis |
The Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan in its order dated 20 April 2017 constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to carry out a thorough investigation into the issues raised in its detailed judgement on Panama Case. The Apex Court directed JIT to answer the 13 questions in the allotted time of 60 days.
The very first issue raised by the Apex Court relates to the establishment of Gulf Steel Mills, followed by the circumstances which led to its sale, the fate of its liabilities, the fate of its sale proceeds and how did these sale proceeds end up in Jeddah, Qatar and the UK, the capability of Hassan and Hussain Nawaz to acquire huge assets in their tender ages, the credibility of letters of Qatari prince, how bearer shares crystallized into flats, the real beneficial owner of Nielsen Enterprises Ltd. and Nescoll Ltd, the circumstances leading to the formation of Hill Metals Establishment and the legality of gifts amounting to millions of dollars received by PM. Nawaz Sharif.
JIT finally submitted its report to Honorable Supreme Court on July 10 2017. The Apex Court has once again begun hearing the Panama Case today i.e. July 17 2017.
Read more: JIT report: The road to a stronger Pakistan
JIT analysis on Hudabiya Mills
The course of examination of record received from different banks and departments, the JIT found additional evidence which was missing in FIA and NAB investigation.
The analysis of JIT relating to Hudabiya Mills, contained in Volume VIII-A, was essentially carried out with a view to ascertain the nexus of the respondents and their close family members, if any, with any other assets with their origin not disclosed, or disproportionate to their known sources of income. During the course of examination of record received from different banks and departments, the JIT found additional evidence which was missing in FIA and NAB investigation.
The JIT investigation also revealed that the process of money laundering started in September 1991 as against the first identified transaction in August 1992 as mentioned in FIA and NAB investigations.
JIT identified the accounts of Mr. Mukhtar Hussein, an employee of Ittefaq group and three bank accounts of Mr. Saeed Ahmed which were not mentioned in the FIA and NAB records. The transactions made through these accounts was closely linked to the other already fraudulent accounts mentioned in the FIA and NAB investigations. The JIT investigation also revealed that the process of money laundering started in September 1991 as against the first identified transaction in August 1992 as mentioned in FIA and NAB investigations.
The JIT also found out that soon after the promulgation of Protection of Economic Reforms Act 1992, many of the fake accounts were opened to legalize the money laundering done by Sharif family. This fact was also mentioned in Mr. Ishaq Dar statement made u/s 164.
The JIT concluded that in the light of the above findings, it can be safely ascertained that during a period of 19991 to 1998, various fictitious and fraudulent foreign currency accounts were opened and loans were obtained with deposits therein used for the benefit of businesses namely; Hudabiya papers, Hudabiya Engineering, Chaudhry Sugar and Hamza Board Mills owned by the Sharif family.
The money launderers
The Supreme Court of Pakistan will ascertain the credibility of the findings of JIT. However, if only the JIT report is to be considered, it can be assumed that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, his brother the Chief Minister of Punjab and other family members have been involved in money laundering which is an offense not only under Pakistani laws but also under international law.
Corruption in Pakistan is a harsh reality which has plagued it since its creation in 1947. What’s more unfortunate is the fact that the ruling elite of this country is involved in a crime which has led to poor economic growth, inflation and the resulting unemployment.
The out flow of billions of rupees through illegal channels i.e. through money laundering has been utilized by Sharif family to establish businesses and off shore companies in foreign lands. The earth shattering revelations made by ICIJ, a Panama based firm, led to the resignations of many leaders across the globe. However, in Pakistan, the Prime Minster is reluctant to do so. His close aides have been busy creating a rift between different institutions of the state by accusing them of being involved in a conspiracy against the sitting government.
This effort on part of the Minsters will not help the Prime Minister but it may lead to the weakening of the institutions. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the ruling family has not mollified the apex court and the JIT for that matter. This makes the conspiracy claim fall out of favor. The Sharifs find themselves in thick soup.