External Affairs

Nawaz Sharif to Appear Before Panama Papers Probe Panel

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Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will appear today before a Supreme Court-appointed team probing the Panamagate graft case, an unprecedented development that will make him the first sitting premier to depose before such a panel.

The joint investigation team (JIT) chief Wajid Zia had summoned the prime minister to appear before the six-member probe team today with all documents relevant to the case.

Ahead of his deposition before the JIT, Sharif held consultations with his close aides and family members this morning.

It is expected that finance minister Ishaq Dar will accompany him to the deposition.

Sharif has already barred his party activists from join him or receiving him at the Judicial Academy in Islamabad where he would be questioned.

The summons were issued to Sharif, 67, after he returned last Saturday from Kazakhstan where he had attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.

In its judgement of April 20 in the Panama Papers case, the Supreme Court had constituted a JIT and empowered it to summon the prime minister, his sons and any other person necessary, to investigate allegations of money-laundering, through which the four apartments in London’s posh Park Lane area were purchased.

Sharif has denied any wrongdoing.

The JIT had questioned Sharif’s sons – Hussain and Hasan – last month over the family’s alleged improper business dealings.

His eldest son Hussain was questioned five times while Hasan, the younger son, was summoned twice.

The court last year took up the case and issued a split decision over allegations of money laundering when Sharif was prime minister in 1990s.

On May 5, the Supreme Court set up a high-level six- member JIT to probe Sharif and his sons’ alleged corruption in the Panama Papers case.

The JIT is bound to complete the probe in 60 days unless it is granted additional time.

It is for the first time that a sitting prime minister would appear before a high-level probe team traditionally constituted to investigate high-profile criminal cases.

It is not yet clear that Sharif will be questioned for once or would be called again like his two sons.

Media reports had also said that Dar may also be questioned today by the JIT before Sharif’s appearance.

The JIT probing the offshore holdings of Sharif and his children has also summoned his younger brother and Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif to appear before it on June 17.

(PTI)