Panama case: Pakistan Supreme Court sets up special cell for facilitating JIT

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Islamabad (PTI): Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday set up a special cell to help constitute the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family’s alleged corruption in the Panama Papers case.
The Supreme Court Additional Registrar Mohammad Ali was appointed as the coordinator and would be responsible for facilitating all communication between the JIT and the Supreme Court bench.
The six-member JIT would be constituted at the earliest, as Justice Ejaz Afzal, who is a main member of the Supreme Court bench, has returned from Turkey, GEO TV reported.
In its April 20 judgment, the apex court had ordered the formation of the JIT to probe offshore assets of the prime minister and his two sons.
Sharif, 67, had got a temporary breather from the Supreme Court which said there was “insufficient evidence” to remove him from office but ordered setting up of a JIT to probe the graft allegations against his family.
The high-profile graft case is about alleged money laundering by Sharif in 1990s when he twice served as the Prime Minister to purchase assets in London. Information about the assets surfaced when Panama Papers last year showed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children.
Prime Minister Sharif has denied any wrongdoing since the scandal first surfaced.
The JIT would comprise representatives from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), as well as officials from the Military Intelligence and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The JIT would submit its report on the progress in the probe to the coordinator every 15 days.
The team would begin the investigation as soon as it is constituted. The Supreme Court has tasked the team to submit a report every two weeks to a special bench of the apex court.
It has also been given a 60-day deadline to file its final report.
It is rare and unprecedented that a sitting prime minister would be quizzed by officials from civil and military institutions for his offshore companies, the Dawn newspaper commented.
The scandal involving the Sharif family first surfaced when documents from a Panamanian legal firm was leaked by a consortium of international investigative journalists in April last year.