Sharif family presented forged deeds for Avenfield flats, JIT head tells court

  • Wajid Zia says London-based forensic laboratory’s report stated that trust deeds relating to Avenfield flats were fabricated
  • Court allows NAB application seeking admission of three letters by JIT head

ISLAMABAD: Prosecution witness and Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head Wajid Zia on Tuesday told the accountability court that Maryam Nawaz and her brothers Hassan and Hussain Nawaz had submitted forged trust deeds related to the Avenfield Flats.

The court also allowed a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) application seeking the admission of three letters by Wajid Zia.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar appeared before the court on Tuesday as Judge Muhammad Bashir resumed hearing of the Avenfield reference.

Zia on Tuesday continued testifying against members of the Sharif family in the Avenfield Flats reference ─ one of three corruption references filed against the family by NAB on the Supreme Court’s orders following the July 28 Panamagate judgement. He has appeared before the court in this regard five times.

Zia told the accountability court that the JIT had sent the trust deeds of offshore companies Nielsen and Nescoll submitted by Maryam during the Panamagate case to a London-based firm, Radley Forensic Document Laboratory, for examination. According to the forensic report issued by the firm, the JIT concluded that the documents were fake, he added.

He claimed that the accused had tampered with the documents by changing the dates from 2004 to 2006. He added that the accused admitted that the apartments were bought during the 1990s, when Hussain was a student.

During the proceedings, Zia also submitted three letters earlier disallowed to be exhibited by the apex court as they were presented following the submission of the final JIT report. He then requested the court to admit them.

Of the three, one dated June 19, 2017, was an authorisation letter on Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) from the attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) to Zia. The second, dated July 4, 2017, was by attorney general chamber Government of Virgin Islands to Zia in connection with the MLA request. The final, dated July 17, 2017, was a reply by Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani to the JIT in connection with Panama Papers proceedings.

Highlighting the timing of the letters’ presentation, Amjad Pervaiz, counsel for counsel for Maryam and Safdar said the witness had presented the documents too late. “These documents are dated,” he said. “Why were they not presented before?”

When Judge Bashir also asked why the June 19 letter had not been submitted earlier, Zia said it was issued after the top court allowed JIT to contact British Virgin Islands (BVI) authorities.

During the last hearing, the accountability judge dismissed Nawaz’s and Maryam’s pleas for exemption from appearing before the court.

The former premier and his daughter filed the application requesting the accountability judge to grant them exemption from personal appearance for seven days starting from March 26 so that they could travel to London to see his wife Kulsoom Nawaz, who is battling cancer.

A medical report of Kulsoom Nawaz was also attached to the applications. Kulsoom is currently undergoing treatment for lymphoma in London. The plea stated that Ali Aimal and Jahangir Jadoon will appear in court on behalf of Nawaz and Maryam, respectively.