Thursday, December 14, 2017 | ePaper

Panama Papers

Pak PM Nawaz survives corruption ruling

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BBC Online :
Pakistan's Supreme Court has ruled there is insufficient evidence of corruption to remove Nawaz Sharif from the role of prime minister.
It instead ordered a further investigation into money transfers. Questions arose over the business dealings of Mr Sharif's family when three of his children were linked to offshore accounts in the Panama Papers leaks in 2015.
Mr Sharif and his family have denied any wrongdoing. They have dismissed the claims as politically motivated.
The case has made headlines in recent months amid predictions it could determine the future of PM Sharif.
About 1,500 police officers were deployed around the court in Islamabad. Protesters nearby urged Mr Sharif to step down with shouts of "Go Nawaz, Go Nawaz", Reuters reports. The Supreme Court agreed to investigate Mr Sharif's offshore wealth late last year after opposition leader Imran Khan threatened street protests.
The focus of the probe was on the funds used to purchase property in London using offshore companies.
Mr Sharif's daughter Maryam, tipped as a future political star, and his sons Hasan and Hussein are implicated in the allegations. Mr Sharif says the wealth was acquired legally. But his critics have suggested offshore companies were used to launder
illegally-obtained wealth or avoid taxes.
The Supreme Court's five-member bench was split on Thursday, with two judges voting against the prime minister but three choosing instead to order a further probe.
Mr Sharif's party, the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N), hailed the decision and his daughter Maryam tweeted: "Praise and glory be to Allah alone."
Both the prime minister's supporters and his critics have been claiming today's decision as a victory.
The prime minister wasn't disqualified - and that was the big fear he and his party had. Similarly, he hasn't been asked to step aside whilst this new investigation takes place.
However, opponents of the prime minster point out that two out of the five judges did recommend Nawaz Sharif should be disqualified, and the other three all felt further investigation was needed.
The prime minister's team will hope that the complex nature of the investigation could see any recommendation it reaches kicked into the long grass. In the meantime, they may try and unveil new voter-friendly policies to take the sting out of this case. At the same time Imran Khan's PTI party, which has lead the corruption allegations, will hope to keep the case in the headlines ahead of elections due to take place next year.
Investigators will now focus on how the family members transferred money to Qatar.
PM Sharif and his daughter told the Supreme Court last November that their London property was bought through investments in companies owned by the Qatari ruling family. But the opposition in Pakistan has dismissed the claims as "fake".

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