Pakistan court resumes Sharif ‘corruption’ hearings

Nawaz Sharif, former Pakistan prime minister

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has resumed deliberations in a corruption case that could unseat Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, after investigators tasked with probing the allegations submitted their findings to judges on Monday.

The Joint Investigative Team (JIT), consisting of investigators from Pakistan’s police, military and financial regulators spent 60 days gathering evidence and questioning witnesses regarding the prime minister’s family’s assets.

Sharif himself appeared before the inquiry on June 15, while his sons Hassan and Hussain were questioned multiple times during the course of proceedings. Maryam Nawaz, Sharif’s daughter and political heir apparent, was also questioned.

The JIT submitted its report, along with two boxes of evidence, to the apex court on Monday morning amid tight security.

The court adjourned Monday’s proceedings until June 17, when lawyers for both sides will be given a chance to present their arguments on the investigating team’s findings.

The allegations focus on Sharif’s previous two terms as prime minister in the 1990s, with opposition politician Imran Khan and others alleging that Sharif and his family illegally profited from his position.

The 2016 leak of 11.5 million documents from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca – dubbed the Panama Papers – showed that three of Sharif’s children were listed as beneficiaries for three offshore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The documents showed these companies were involved in a 2007 loan of $13.8m, made using high-value Sharif-owned properties in the United Kingdom as collateral, and a separate 2007 transaction amounting to $11.2m.

Owning off-shore companies is not illegal in Pakistan, but Sharif’s political opponents allege the Sharif properties in London were obtained through corrupt means and that he did not fully declare his assets to tax authorities.

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The probe has expanded to include corruption allegations regarding the sale and purchase of various industrial units in Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Sharif denies any wrongdoing, saying the sources all of his family’s assets can be legally accounted for.

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