Islamabad [Pakistan], Jan.14 (ANI
): The ongoing investigations into the Panamagate scandal has taken a new twist with media reports in the United Kingdom claiming that four apartments in London's upscale Park Lane neighbourhood have been owned by the family of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
since the 1990s.
The four apartments in the Park Lane neighbourhood had been purchased in the name of Nielsen Enterprise Ltd and Nescoll Ltd - the two offshore companies named in the Panama Papers. According to one report, the official records of companies doing business in the United Kingdom reveal that when Hassan Nawaz, the son of Premier Sharif, set up a company, Flagship Investment Ltd in 2001, he had provided the address of one of the Park Lane apartments address at the time of registration.
In May 2015, the Panama Papers, an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world's fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca, revealed that three scions of the Sharif family are among thousands of powerful people of the world who had secreted their monies in offshore tax havens.
The revelations stirred up a political firestorm in the country, with opposition parties, especially Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, accusing the ruling Sharif family of corruption and money laundering and calling for their accountability.
According to the Express Tribune, in subsequent interviews, Premier Sharif's son Hussain Nawaz admitted the family's ownership of Nielsen and Nescoll, the two offshore companies named in the Panama Papers.
"The Park Lane apartments in London are owned by Nielsen and Nescoll, and I am the beneficial owner of these companies, which are working under a trust held by my sister Maryam Nawaz Sharif," he was quoted, as saying at the time.
A five-judge larger bench of the Supreme Court is hearing a slew of petitions filed by opposition politicians seeking disqualification of Premier Sharif in light of the Panama Papers revelations.
In his reply in the top court, Hussain said he was the sole owner of the properties abroad.
"Entities [properties] are being managed under a trust arrangement for the sole benefit of Hussain Nawaz, with Maryam Nawaz being the trustee thereof. Other than the role of a trustee for and on behalf of Hussain Nawaz, Hassan Nawaz has no concern, relationship, ownership or control of the entities and/or the properties," he said.
He further submitted that the source of funds resulting in vesting of beneficial ownership of the entities and, consequently, the properties of Hussain Nawaz, in January 2006, was the investment made by the late Mian Muhammad Sharif, father of Premier Sharif, in 1980, from the sale proceeds of his steel business in Dubai.
No part of the funds resulting in vesting of beneficial ownership of the entities in favour of Hussain were generated or transferred/transmitted from Pakistan, states the reply adding that before January 2006, none of the entities or properties was owned by any of the Sharif family members.
Premier Sharif's second son Hassan Nawaz, in his reply, stated that he was not and had never been owner of any of the properties or entities. He further stated that none of the members of the Sharif family
had purchased the properties between 1993 and 1996. (ANI