Fact-check: No, Nawaz Sharif was not disqualified due to Panama Papers
Nawaz Sharif was in fact removed from office for not declaring in his 2013 election nomination papers an unwithdrawn salary
Updated Tuesday Aug 22 2023
Politician Imran Khan has repeatedly alleged that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was dismissed from office by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2017 for not being able to explain the purchase of four luxury apartments in central London, which came under investigation after documents leaked from a Panama-based law firm in 2016.
The claim is false.
In an interview with BBC World News on August 3, Imran Khan claimed that Sharif had been removed from office due to the Panama Papers.
“How did Nawaz Sharif get caught? It was in the Panama Papers,” he told the show’s host, “The exposé that took place, where it was discovered that he had four luxury flats in London, which he had not declared and were in his daughter’s name.”
Khan added that Sharif's case was heard for one and a half years in court, after which a joint investigation team asked Sharif to provide information about where he got the money to buy the apartments.
“When he could not [provide the information] that is when he was disqualified,” Khan said.
The interview has been viewed over 300,000 times, at the time of writing and shared multiple times on social media.
Nawaz Sharif was removed from office for not declaring in his 2013 election nomination papers an unwithdrawn salary of AED 10,000 from Capital FZE, a Dubai-based company his son owned.
He was not disqualified due to the lack of providing a money trail of the four apartments.
The 2017 Supreme Court verdict states that Sharif was entitled to a salary as chairman of the board of Capital FZE, a ceremonial office he had held since 2007, but he never withdrew his salary.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who authored the judgment, wrote that Sharif had failed to disclose his “un-withdrawn receivables constituting as assets from Capital FZE, UAE, in his nomination papers filed for the General Elections held in 2013.”
The judge further added that as per the election laws “having furnished a false declaration under solemn affirmation Nawaz Sharif is not honest in terms of Section 99(f) of Representation of People Act 1976 and Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution…therefore, he is disqualified to be a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).”
Link to judgment:
Thus, while the case against Nawaz Sharif and his family was initiated after the documents leaked from a Panama-based firm, the former prime minister was eventually disqualified for not declaring an unwithdrawn salary from Capital FZE, a company that finds no mention in the Panama Papers.
The company was in fact first named in a note by Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan in April 2017, when a five-member bench of the Supreme Court was hearing a case related to the Panama Papers.
“There is yet another company under the name and style of Capital FZE, Dubai, presumably registered under the laws of UAE,” the judge wrote in his note, “Funds also appear to have been routed through the said company from time to time by / and on behalf of Respondent No.7 (Hussain Nawaz Sharif).”
Separately, Geo Fact Check reached out to lawyer Salahuddin Ahmed for further confirmation.
Ahmed also stated that the only ground taken by the Supreme Court that had sent packing the former prime minister was not declaring an unpaid salary.
“He was disqualified for not declaring the unpaid salary he was to receive from his son’s company on the basis that even an unpaid salary (being a receivable) is an asset of the employee,” Ahmed said, over the phone, “And hence he should have declared it in his list of assets filed with the ECP [Election Commission] along with his electoral nomination.”
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