SC seeks details of offshore company, gifts from Tareen

  • CJ Nisar remarks elected official cannot be disqualified on allegations
  • PTI’s Fawad claims Tareen’s company not named in Panama Papers
  • Abbasi says he would disclose PTI’s misappropriation on Sunday

The three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar hearing the disqualification case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Khan Tareen has sought answers to five questions from the counsel.

The questions are when was Tareen’s trust formed, when was the offshore company formed, who’s the legal and beneficial owner of the company, when and for how much was the offshore company formed, and how many times did he give funds as gifts to his children from 2002-17?

Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Hanif Abbasi had petitioned the court to disqualify Tareen and PTI Chairman Imran Khan. The petition alleges that Tareen owns offshore companies in the name of his children, shared gifts worth over Rs1.6 billion among family members, and is involved in insider trading in the shares of the United Sugar Mills Limited in 2005.

At the start of hearing, the chief justice asked if every disqualification case would be brought to the apex court. “It is Tareen today, tomorrow it will be some other lawmaker. This has to stop somewhere. There are other forums which can look into these matters,” he observed. The bench comprised of Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab.

The bench inquired from Abbasi’s counsel why the case is worthy of being heard in the apex court. The counsel said that the matter was of public interest. When asked what grounds he seeks to disqualify the lawmaker, the counsel replied to the bench that Tareen failed to declare his offshore companies, did not pay agro tax and committed insider trading.

He said that the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) sent a notice to Tareen over insider trading as well. Justice Arab said that every member of the parliament who is served a notice by the SECP cannot be disqualified just for being served a notice. Chief Justice Nisar remarked that an elected official cannot be disqualified on the basis of allegations and that the bench has to proceed carefully in such cases.

The judges pointed out that it was clear from the documents submitted that Tareen had given money to his children as gifts and that there was nothing illegal about giving or receiving monetary gifts within the family. “The gifts were a front to create benami fortunes,” the lawyer argued. “How do we take this assumption to be true,” the chief justice responded. The hearing was later adjourned till 11:30am on Thursday (today).

Outside the court, PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry said that Abbasi would go to jail over his own case, as he (Abbasi) lied in the court and submitted false documents. He said that his counsel does not know what crime, if any, Tareen has committed. He said that Abbasi claimed Tareen’s company was named in the Panama Papers, which is not true.

Speaking to the media, Abbasi said that the case was nearing its conclusion and would result in the disqualification of the PTI chairman. He said that the banks whose receipts Imran submitted in the court have closed down. He reiterated his plans of holding a press conference on Sunday wherein he would disclose how the funds of the PTI and the Shaukat Khanum Hospital were misappropriated.

PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz said that the PTI has accepted in the court that giving gifts to children and having benamidar owners was not illegal. In the petition, Abbasi alleges that the actual owner of the offshore companies owned by Tareen’s children was Tareen himself.