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Monday Jun 19 2017
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Panama case: SC orders DG FIA to probe record tampering charges against SECP chief

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court bench overseeing the implementation of the Panama case verdict ordered the Federal Investigation Agency director-general to probe charges that the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) chairman tampered records related to the Sharif family money trail.

The special bench of the Supreme Court was holding proceedings on Monday over the government's response to the Panama case Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) charges that its probe is being impeded by certain official quarters.

During the hearing, the three-member bench also directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to suspend its show-cause notice to Irfan Mangi, the NAB official who is part of the six-member JIT.

Attorney General (AG) Ashtar Ausaf Ali was also directed to inform the court tomorrow about what action should be taken against the Intelligence Bureau (IB) over charges levelled against it by the JIT.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that every day the government’s representatives attack the JIT and the apex court on various news channels. He stated that they will soon issue an order related to this. 

The bench also warned the government to stop harassing JIT members otherwise it will issue a strict order in this regard. 

The judges also directed the JIT to work according to the objective given to it by the Supreme Court in the designated time frame and "stop looking here and there." 

Questioning the role of the IB, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh said the court will continue to walk the tight rope of the law.

We will not remain silent spectators. We have said before that we do not care if the sky falls or earth crumbles, said Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the bench.  

There are severe accusations against the SECP chairman, he observed further.

Earlier today, as the bench began hearing the case, members of the JIT were not present in court. The bench then asked the AG if proceedings should be postponed till 1pm today, to which the AG replied in the affirmative. 

Proceedings of the bench could not be held on Thursday as the JIT members could not show up in court owing to the premier’s questioning by them on the same day. The case was then adjourned till Monday (today). 

At the hearing on Wednesday, the court had reserved its decision on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son, Hussain Nawaz's, petition challenging the recording of the JIT proceedings and had also directed the attorney general (AG) to submit his response to the JIT’s report on ‘impediments’ faced by it. 

The AG, on Friday, submitted the government's response to the JIT's charges in the Supreme Court. 

In it, all the government agencies, departments and ministry, including the Prime Minister House, have rejected charges of pressuring witnesses and delaying the high-profile probe. 

On Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif appeared before the JIT to become the fourth member of the Sharif family summoned for the probe.

Following the session, the Punjab chief minister said that every penny earned by his family is accounted for, adding that all assets owned by the family are part of the family’s private wealth and have nothing to do with public funds.

He also rejected all allegations of wrongdoing and corruption hurled by his opponents.

The JIT has summoned the premier’s elder son, Hussain Nawaz, five times and his younger son, Hassan, twice so far.

The probe 

The Supreme Court decided to begin investigating the Sharif family in November last year after the main political parties failed to agree on a committee to probe the April 2016 Panama Papers leaks, and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan threatened mass protests and to ‘shut down Islamabad’ in protest on November 2. 

On April 20, the five-member Supreme Court bench gave its verdict in the case with the judgment split 3-2 in favour of a further probe against the premier's family wealth. The other two judges had ruled that sufficient evidence was available for the prime minister to be de-seated. 

The JIT — formed on May 6 — was given 60 days to complete its probe into the Sharif family’s international financial dealings and submit its report to the Supreme Court’s special implementation bench overseeing its proceedings.

The JIT team is headed by Federal Investigation Agency Additional Director Wajid Zia, and includes members from Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, SECP, State Bank of Pakistan and NAB.

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