Saturday, June 10, 2023

Panama leaks: Pakistan defends PM, Hussain says he did no wrong


Islamabad, April 4 (IANS) In the wake of the Panama Papers leak, the Pakistan government on Monday asserted that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has no wealth stashed abroad while Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz refuted allegations that the Sharif family has hidden offshore assets.

An expose by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), made public in papers on Monday claims that Nawaz Sharif’s family members have offshore holdings.

Following the expose, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan sought immediate action against Prime Minister Sharif. “Our stance vindicated again as Sharif’s wealth stashed abroad exposed,” Imran Khan tweeted.

However, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid took exception to cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s allegations and said that even the Panama papers — a reference to a massive leak of documents of law firm Mossack Fonseca based in the tax haven of Panama — prove Khan’s allegation wrong as Nawaz Sharif has no assets in foreign countries.

“Both the children of Nawaz Sharif file their tax returns in accordance with the law, and do business abroad like children of common Pakistanis do,” he said.

“The documents do not mention that Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif have properties out of the country,” the minister said.

“Those apartments are ours and those offshore companies are also ours,” Hussain Nawaz told Geo TV. “There is nothing wrong with it and I have never concealed them, nor do I need to do that,” he said, adding that all this was in accordance with British laws.

Hussain also said he had left Pakistan in 1992, and being a non-resident for more than 138 days he was not liable to declare his assets, as per the country’s laws.

“We do not want to discuss things relating to Imran Khan. He could knock doors of international courts or approach the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) over the Panama leaks,” Pervaiz Rashid said.

The record identifies four companies in the ownership of Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and sons Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s relatives Samina Durrani and Ilyas Mehraj also figured in the documents examined.

Although no offshore entity was directly owned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, as many as eight companies have been identified that are linked either with Hussain Nawaz, his sister and brother or Shahbaz’s relatives, the documents show.

Accordng to the Panama Papers, Maryam Nawaz was a secret beneficial owner of two companies set up in 1993-94. She was also shareholder of another company jointly owned by her and Hussain Nawaz. Hassan is sole owner of yet another offshore holding. The companies have last been used for purchasing six properties in London during 2007-2008.

Shahbaz Sharif’s relative Ilyas Mehraj has been mentioned as a major shareholder of a company though he firmly denies it. Another relative of the Punjab CM, Samina Durrani, owns three companies — the latest was opened in 2010.

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