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I was not involved in any business dealings with Qatari royal family: Nawaz Sharif

23 May, 2018

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During the hearing of the Avenfield reference on Tuesday, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif remarked that he wasn’t involved in any business dealings with the Qatari royal family.

The Avenfield reference, pertaining to the Sharif family’s London properties, is among the three references filed against the family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) last year on the Supreme Court’s directives.

Regarding letters written by Qatari Prince Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor al Thani, Nawaz said the letters had been verified by the prince himself, who was ready to join the hearing, but the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) didn’t bother recording his statement.

During the proceedings, Nawaz once again brought up the issue of JIT head Wajid Zia employing the services of his cousin Akhtar Raja’s company during the course of the investigation.

“Akhtar Raja’s statement in court was biased,” Nawaz said, adding that Jeremy Freeman verified trust deeds of Comber group, Nielsen and Nescoll, on January 5, 2017. “Freeman had a copy of the trust deeds at his office,” the former premier said.

He said neither Akhtar nor the investigating officer make any effort to obtain copies of trust deeds from Freeman.

The former PM also raised the issue of Akhtar Raja getting done forensics of photocopies. “Akhtar Raja should know there is no forensic review of photocopies. He emailed the documents to forensic experts in haste. The forensic expert was hesitant at first to conduct forensic of the documents.”

Over his alleged involvement in Dubai Steel Mills, Nawaz said he just attended the inauguration ceremony of the facility.

Nawaz claimed that he was never the owner, director or shareholder of Capital FZE. “I was never affiliated with the business dealings of the company.”

Regarding the letter from the UAE’s Justice Ministry, Nawaz said that he was unaware that the letter came in response to any mutual legal assistance (MLA). “The letter was never presented as evidence in court, therefore, it cannot be used as proof,” he said.

Nawaz remarked that the 2012 Mosaic Fonseca letter presented by Zia could not be used as a primary document since it could not be certified as per customary laws.

Meanwhile, the NAB prosecutor raised objections over ‘the way Nawaz was recording his statement’. He said the suspect needed to record the statement on his own and he can only take help from his counsel on certain legal points.

“My objections should be made part of court records,” th e NAB prosecutor told the court.

In response, Nawaz said, “I own my statements. I prepared the statement with help from my counsel, Khawaja Harris. My throat hurts if I read for too long. This is why I asked Khawaja Harris to read my statement,” he said, adding, “If NAB had a problem with it then they should’ve raised objections in yesterday’s hearing.”Afterwards, Nawaz started reading the statement himself. On Monday, Nawaz had denied invovlement in Avenfield case while recording his answers to 55 of the 128 questions asked by the court.

He remarked that the prosecution had ‘failed miserably’ to prove both, its stance and any link between him and the London flats, in the Avenfield properties reference. The former PM said that none of the documents produced by the prosecution could connect him to any money trail leading to the Avenfield apartments. “I was never involved or associated in any capacity in the acquisition of any real or beneficial title of the Avenfield apartments (or providing means or funds),” he said. The three-time premier remarked that the JIT report could not be treated as evidence as it was the report of an investigation agency. “None of the volumes of the report stand as exhibited as evidence as only a selected portion was allowed to be exhibited in court,” he said. “The JIT carried out a one-sided investigation,” he said. “None of the MLAs sent by the JIT to UK, BVI, and UAE have been produced in court, and the court’s decision should not be based on the MLAs produced or not produced.” Nawaz also detached himself from Gulf Steel Mills, claiming that he was never associated with it.

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