The Panama Leaks and Nawaz Sharif Family
19 April, 2016
By Saeed Qureshi
A team of The International Consortium of Investigate Journalists (ICIJ) leaked the Database Documents commonly known as Panama Papers. ICIJ works for Panama Papers. Panama Papers is the largest international organization of its kind across the globe. The leaked documents involving 214000 offshore companies were researched by around 400 journalists around the world from 80 nations. The number of confidential documents researched is 1.5 million. Besides 100 media organizations including BBC, Guardian, Suddeutsche Zeitung, Falter, etc. were involved in this research. The collected information runs into 2.6 terabytes of data.
The Central actor or facilitator mentioned in the historic and unprecedented so titled “Panama Leaks” is Mossack Fonseca. It is a law firm of Panama that works globally to establish, manage and sell the anonymous businesses and companies to prospective interested parties.
Mossack Fonseca manages the secret assets of major banks, legal firms and asset management companies. Its shady deals also encompass industrialists, actors, the world’s rich and famous politicians, personalities, fraudsters, drug smugglers, professionals, etc. Thus the beneficiaries and clients of the Mossack Fonseca can evade taxes and and money laundering.
It prepares fake documents, creates phony directors and hides the true identity of the actual owners of the offshore businesses. In simple world it helps, in an apparent legal way, the money laundering of the black or illegitimate wealth.
Undoubtedly, it is one of the biggest and unprecedented scandals of money-laundering unearthed ever. It would be interesting to watch what action the respective governments take against the figures, companies, politicians and business cartels of their countries. Whether the Panama government or an international forum would take Mossack Fonseca to task or the respective governments would prosecute those companies and individuals whose names are in the papers.
In the wake of this mega bombshell of concealment of wealth, the Iceland's prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has resigned. There could be many more resignations in the time to come.
From Pakistan three children of the incumbent Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, namely Hasan Nawaz Sharif, Hussain Nawaz Sharif and daughter Marian Safdar have been mentioned in the Panama Leaks.
From India there are 500 industrialists, Bollywood actors, Politicians who used the service of Mossack Fonseca to hide their wealth. This list includes Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, KP Singh, Anurag Kejriwal and many others.
In Pakistan there is a massive backlash from the politicians against Nawaz Sharif and his family. Imran Khan, the Chairman of the PTI and some of his colleagues have been most aggressive vocal in this regard. They have demanded that the NAB should immediately launch an investigation into the recent revelations about Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family’s alleged offshore wealth.
In a televised address to the nation Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced to constitute a Judicial Commission to probe ‘allegations’ being faced by his family members in the backdrop of Panama Papers leak.
Many politicians of the opposition have rejected this decision of Nawaz Sharif and opined that judicial commission was going to be merely an eye wash in probing the truth about the serious accusation of money laundering as leaked in Panama Papers.
Calling for prime Minister’s resignation, the PTI chief has asked him to reveal to the nation how such huge sums were transferred abroad. The Chief of Jamaat-i-Islam Siraj-ul-haq has joined the chorus of bitter condemnation and scathing censure.
Besides PTI, Sheikh Rashid, the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, Khurshid Shah, Ayaz Amir a columnist and Sirjul-Haq the Chief of Jamat-e-Islami and among others have castigated the prime minister on formation of one man judicial commission.
It looks like a sudden bolt from the blue for Nawaz Sharif government already caught up in unbridled religious militancy and continuous and unremitting lawlessness. There could be a possibility that opposition might force either derailing the PMLN government or prime minister’s resignation.
. Perhaps it is the most embarrassing and trying time for Mian Nawaz Sharif and his children although there are many other heads of states or the governments caught into this sudden whirlwind of hug scam. The allegations of the opposition members though legitimate look like a political move to accuse Nawaz Sharif personally and to replace him.
The three children of Nawaz Sharif have tried to clarify their position yet the barrage of incriminations against Sharif family seems to be bulging. Their explanation is that they had been doing their business out of Pakistan for about twenty years and their wealth was not transferred from Pakistan but earned abroad. Mariam Safdar in her press statement said that “the info provided by leaks does NOT say any wrongdoing involved. Distortion is willful that a couple of media channels are using to settle scores"
It cannot be predicted how far these explanations can be effective to convince the critics and whether the storm would finally subside or not.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat.This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com.