Monday Jul 17, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, one of the respondents in the Panama Papers case, submitted his reply — raising objections to accusations against him in the Joint Investigation Team's final report — to the Supreme Court on Monday.
The response, submitted by the minister's counsel, rejects the findings of the JIT report and claims the investigators worked beyond the mandate given to them by the Supreme Court.
The Sharif family, in its response to the apex court, also submitted similar objections.
“The JIT has not mentioned any, much less cogent, reason for the apparent transgression of its mandate. The findings merit rejection for this reason alone,” the response states.
Regarding allegations in the JIT report that the respondent [Ishaq Dar] “did not file income tax returns from 1981/82 to 2001/02”, the response states that “no evidence” was found “substantiating the said allegations”.
To allegations of tax evasion, the response claims that “the perverse conclusion” of tax evasion is “clear evidence of mala fide, and an apparent attempt to mislead the [Supreme Court] amounting to contempt.”
The JIT report claims an “exorbitant increase in assets since 2008/09 for which sources of income were not furnished”. Ishaq Dar invested GBP 5.5 million in BARAQ Holdings in UAE but the source of funds was not disclosed, the report claims. Out of these funds, GBP 4.97 million was given by him to his son, it adds.
The response addresses these claims by stating that the “said credit balance with BARAQ Holdings has been construed by JIT as an investment, whereas it was accumulated unpaid remuneration for professional advisory services..”
“GBP 4.97 million was ‘Qarz-e-Hasna/loan’ to his son, which was also duly declared,” the reply notes.
The JIT report stated that “dichotomies on mis-declaration of assets” was found which was tantamount to “hiding of assets and tax evasion”. The minister's response counters the finding by saying that there is “no basis” for the claims.
On the subject of alleged tax evasion in donations to charities, the reply claims that Dar has “never claimed any tax exemption on these donations”. The “mala-fide is self-evident. The allegation is false, unfounded and malicious,” the reply adds.
To the JIT finding that Dar “possesses assets disproportionate and beyond known sources of means,” the reply notes that “income tax returns for a period spanning 23 years have already been investigated by NAB” and no “irregularities of any kind” were revealed.
“Each and every rupee of his income and all his assets are duly explained and supported by documentary evidence, which has always been available with the concerned authorities,” claims the reply.
“The conclusions/findings have clearly been contrived/fabricated and have no factual or legal basis whatsoever,” it states.
The Panama case JIT, formed in light of the apex court’s April 20 judgment to probe the Sharif family’s money trail, submitted its 60-day investigation report to the court on July 10.
The report highlighted the failure of the Sharif family to provide a money trail for its London apartments and claimed the prime minister and his children own assets beyond their known sources of income.
On Monday, the bench heard arguments from the petitioners who sought disqualification of the prime minister and initiation of cases against them in the relevant courts.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments from the respondents on Tuesday.