Prime Minister, children have new counsel team

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his children Tuesday changed their legal team in the Panama Leaks case, which is being taken up by a larger bench of the Supreme Court. 

The five-member bench led by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, the court’s senior-most judge, will resume fresh hearing in the petitions filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Jamaat-e-Islami who seek a probe into the case.

Former attorney general Salman Aslam Butt who was representing Nawaz Sharif in the case has been replaced with Makhdom Ali Khan, a senior lawyer who is a former attorney general.

Muhammad Akram Sheikh, who was representing the prime minister’s son Hussain Nawaz, has been replaced by Salman Akram Raja, another advocate of the Supreme Court.

The prime minister’s daughter Maryam Safdar and her husband Safdar Awan had been represented respectively by advocates Akram Sheikh and Salman Aslam Butt. Now they will be represented by Shahid Hamid, a lawyer who is a former governor of Punjab.

Meanwhile, the Tehreek-e-Insaf submitted additional documents regarding the case to the Supreme Court, which include letters exchanged in 2012 between Mossack Fonseca and Minerva Services and an e-mail record.

A letter from the director of the British Virgin Islands to Mossack Fonseca’s money laundering reporting officer is part of the evidence. On June 12, 2012, Financial Investigation Agency of the Virgin Islands asked Nescoll Limited and Nielsen Enterprises Limited to provide the name, contact details and address of the ultimate beneficiary, registered director and shareholder of the companies.

According to the letter, responding to the query of the agency, the reporting officer of Mossack, Fonseca & Co Limited, J Nizbeth Maduro, wrote a letter to the agency saying that the beneficial owner of Nielsen Enterprises Limited and Nescoll Limited is Maryam Safdar, whose address is Saroor Palace in Jeddah.

The reporting officer also attached a copy of the passport of Maryam Safdar with the letter. Maduro also said the directors of the company are Minerva Officer Limited and Corporate Officer Limited whose address is PO Box 218, 43/45 La Motte Street, St Helier JE48SD Jersey.

However, according to her, Mossack Fonseca & Co have no information of any company or companies connected to or associated with the company, and that the company has a loan account with Deutsche Bank, Geneva.

Responding to another letter of Mossack Fonseca & Co, Michael Rossiter, a trust officer of Minerva Trust & Corporate Services Limited from Jersey, said that Nielsen and Nescoll are owned by Maryam Safdar.

Rossiter further said in the letter that the activities of each company are also the same, with both owning a British property each.

Nescoll owns 17 Avenfield House, 118-127 Park Lane, London, and Nielsen owns Number 16 of the team address. Rossiter added that neither property is rented and is only occupied by the owner and her family. Meanwhile, lawyer Tariq Asad, one of the petitioners, filed a civil miscellaneous application in the case on Tuesday.

He asked that in case the Supreme Court finally decides to constitute a commission to probe into the alleged money laundering and tax evasion by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members, the investigation of the other prominent persons, at least parliamentarians like Imran Khan, Jehangir Tareen, Pervez Musharraf, Rehman Malik, Benazir Bhutto’s legal heirs which the Supreme Court deems fit, should also be conducted, and whoever is found involved in corrupt practices dealt with in accordance with the law.

He also requested that the case of Nawaz Sharif be decided urgently and on priority basis, saying that the investigation of others involved could be carried out later. The petitioners could be given opportunities to provide needed documents to a commission, in case it is constituted by the Supreme Court.

-Business Recorder