Nawaz’s actual salary higher than stated, JIT head tells court

  • Wajid Zia says unaware who changed salary figure on Nawaz’s Capital FZE contract
  • Court approves one-day exemption plea of Nawaz, Maryam

ISLAMABAD: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Additional Director Wajid Zia, who headed the Panama case Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which probed the Sharif family assets last year, on Thursday told the accountability court that Nawaz Sharif’s salary at his son Hassan Nawaz’s company, Capital FZ, was more than the stated salary on the employment contract.

The court resumed hearing the Avenfield flats case, which is based on a reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in light of the Supreme Court’s July 28’s verdict in Panama Papers case and pertains to the Sharif family’s London apartments.

At the onset of the proceedings, Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Harris requested the court to exempt his client from Thursday’s proceedings as Nawaz’s plane couldn’t take off from Lahore due to inclement weather. The court approved the plea.

As Nawaz’s defence counsel, Khawaja Harris, continued his cross-examination, Zia said that the actual salary of Nawaz was AED100,000 but was shown as AED10,000 in the company’s employment contract. Harris’ questioning on Thursday was focused on the former premier’s employment contract, which became the basis for his dismissal from the office of prime minister.

Harris probed Zia on whether the JIT head knew who had changed the former prime minister’s income in the company documents, to which Zia replied in the negative and added that as the contract was not prepared in front of him and claimed that the document was thoroughly examined by the investigation team.

The defence counsel then asked whether it was included in the JIT report that two members of the team had travelled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to obtain documents for Capital FZ, to which Zia replied saying it was included. “In volume one, on the seventh page this information has been included,” Zia confirmed, adding that statement of the individual who stamped and verified the company documents was not recorded.

The former premier has publicly lamented that he was ousted because he didn’t collect a salary from his son’s company.

Moreover, the court asked for a magnifying glass to examine the flowchart of funds involved in bank transactions of the Sharifs presented by Zia.

Later, Zia informed the court that they obtained Capital FZE employees’ records from Jabal Ali Free Zone Authority.

He stated that screenshots of the payment sheets do not contain Nawaz’s name, adding that neither is there a receipt or bank record of receiving a salary.

When Harris commented that there is no mention of Nawaz ever having received a salary from the UAE-based company, Zia asserted that though the name is not mentioned the documents are related to the former premier.

The hearing was then adjourned until Friday morning.

During Thursday’s proceedings, Zia was cross-examined for the seventh time after having recorded his statement in the case over six hearings.

At the last hearing, Wajid Zia had presented seven Mutual Legal Assistance (MLAs) documents in the accountability, stating that the Supreme Court (SC) had kept Volume X of the JIT’s report sealed.

At an earlier hearing, the court hearing the Avenfield properties reference had directed Wajid Zia to approach the apex court for obtaining the JIT report’s Volume X.