Pakistan’s embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has admitted before the Supreme Court, hearing a money laundering case against him, that he had obtained a permit to work in a company in the UAE while rejecting the allegation that he had concealed his employment.
In a written reply submitted in the apex court through his counsels — Khawaja Haris, Amjad Pervaiz and Saad Hashmi — Sharif said his employment with the Capital FZE and obtaining of work permit for it had been mentioned in his nomination papers submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) during the 2013 general election.
A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted by the apex court to probe the offshore business dealings of the Sharif family in 1990s in its report said that the prime minister was the chairman of Capital FZE and he had also obtained a work permit from the UAE government for the purpose.
The prime minister’s lawyers had initially denied that Sharif was the chairman of any offshore company.
In his fresh reply, Sharif told the Supreme Court that his son, Hassan Nawaz, was the “owner, director & secretary and the authorised signatory of the Capital FZE”.
“Nawaz Sharif is not a shareholder, or director or secretary of Capital FZE,” according to the reply. The premier was only a “ceremonial office holder” in 2007 when he was in exile and had nothing to do with the running of the company or supervising its affairs, it said.
“The Iqama (work permit) and the prime minister’s employment with the Capital FZE is reflected in the copies of his passport annexed with the nomination forms submitted to the ECP before 2013 election. Being no separate column in the nomination forms for any such information to be provided by the candidate contesting the election Nawaz Sharif’s passport copies were annexed,” the reply said.
A six-member JIT was set up in May by the apex court with the mandate to probe the Sharif family for allegedly failing to provide the trail of money used to buy properties in London in 1990s.
The JIT has recommended that the report’s Volume-X should be treated as confidential as it contains the details of correspondence with other countries.
So far Sharif has refused to quit, calling the investigators’ report a compilation of “allegations and assumptions”.
The apex court is likely to announce its verdict in the sensitive Panama Papers case against Sharif in the coming week. Sharif and his cabinet members have been alleging for weeks that conspiracies are being hatched to oust Nawaz Sharif. They openly blamed the military establishment and judiciary behind the plot for Sharif’s ouster.