The six-member team will be required to submit its first progress report in two weeks
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday announced the formation of a six-member Joint Investigation Team to probe the alleged corruption of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family as reported in the Panama Papers leaks.
Amer Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan, Bilal Rasool of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Irfan Naeem Mangi of the National Accountability Bureau, Brig. Muhammad Nauman Saeed of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Brig. Kamran Khurshid of the Military Intelligence, and Wajid Zia of the Federal Investigation Agency will comprise the JIT, according to a notification issued by Justices Ejaz Afzal Khan, Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Ijaz ul Ahsan.
The notification also directs the JIT to be housed in the Building of the Federal Judicial Academy in Islamabad and orders their respective departments to provide them secretarial staff of their choice and offer any expertise that might be required. “Since the JIT in connection with the investigation would need funds, the Federal Government is directed to provide them necessary funds,” it adds, “We direct the Federal Government to initially provide an amount to the tune of Rs. 20 million forthwith so that the JIT may not feel handicapped in its movement in any direction.”
The judicial order also permits the JIT to engage any local and foreign experts during its investigation, as required. It also directs the government to ensure security arrangements for the team.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court had last month ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Sharif and his family had lied about the finances used to purchase several high-end London properties via offshore companies. The split 3-2 ruling had directed the formation of a JIT to confirm the veracity of the Sharif family’s claims and left the door open for disqualification proceedings if the probe found sufficient proof of corruption.
The controversy started with the publication of the so-called Panama Papers last year. The 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca documented the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful. Among the global elite implicated were three of Sharif’s four children—his daughter and presumptive political heir Maryam, and his sons Hasan and Hussein. Sharif insists the wealth was acquired legally through family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf. Lawyers for the opposition PTI, however, argue the paper trail for the funds is nonexistent and have suggested Sharif is guilty of money laundering.