LONDON: The Joint Investigation Team, probing the Sharif family’s wealth, has hired a law firm in London to verify the already verified papers of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s children which the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) had already accepted – without questioning their authenticity and veracity in the last five months.
The central-London based law firm has written letters to various departments asking if the papers submitted to the SCP from Hasan, Hussain and Maryam Nawaz Sharif carry genuine stamps and signatures.
The JIT’s law firm has also written letters to verify whether the papers submitted from London to the apex court – primarily the trust deed between Hussain and Maryam – is genuine and whether it carries genuine verifications.
The Sharif family submitted the bearer share certificates, to the SCP, of the four London flats which have remained in the custody of Maryam between February and July 2006.
A trust deed was executed between Maryam and Hussain in February 2006, following which she acted as a trustee for her brother.
Lawyers acting for Hasan and Hussain have told the SCP, through an oath form, that the trust deed between Hussain and Maryam was signed in their presence in February 2006.
The SCP did not raise any objections but the JIT’s appointed law firm is now seeking confirmation about the deed and other papers.
The JIT law firm claims on its website that it has expertise in complex disputes and have a record of providing robust representation to achieve results through ‘aggressive’ litigation.
When approached by The News as to who had hired it, who was paying the huge legal fees, whether anyone from London or Pakistan was involved in its hiring, the law firm refused to answer questions.
A source privy to the JIT proceedings told The News that three firms have been engaged in Britain to seek help in investigations. A forensic chartered accountancy firm has also been hired and another law firm is also on board.
The total legal bill of these firms will be in tens of thousands of Pound Sterling, but ambiguity has surrounded the hiring of the law firms regarding payment of bills and whether these firms will be able to get anything damning from this exercise.
‘SCP made no contact with Pakistan High Commission’
A Pakistan High Commission source said the SCP had made no contact with it for the hiring of the law firm or to seek assistance from any British government department or any financial institutions.
The source added that it had no idea about the central-London law firm and on whose behalf it was acting.
The News understands that the JIT’s main London law firm first contacted Hasan and Hussain’s lawyers about ten days ago. It also sent letters to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and five banks seeking confirmation if the papers sent to Pakistan were genuine.
Lawyers acting for Hasan told the law firm that proper rules were followed while getting the papers verified under oath as any wrongdoing could land everyone in jail for offences of fraud and forgery. The lawyers also told the JIT’s law firm that its future communications with reference to the papers will not be entertained.
There is no chance that any of the banks involved or the HMRC will entertain correspondence by the JIT’s law firm under the client’s confidentiality agreements, as revealing any information to a private law firm, in a case of political nature, will mean the department will end up in a court of law for breaking its governing rules.
The apex court could have invoked the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) formula to obtain helpful information for its probe into the Panama Papers but that route has not been adopted and services of a private law and accountancy firms have been hired.
Hasan submitted record of his properties before the SCP in the first week of February 2017 and no objections were raised by the court on these papers.
It is understood that these documents included record of the four Park Lane flats owned by Hasan and Hussain and details of Hasan’s businesses and companies.
These papers were first attested by notary public, then the Pakistan High Commission and then the FCO.
Following this, Hasan Nawaz Sharif sent papers by mail to the apex court, confirming that the papers were certified by all relevant institutions including banks, HMRC and the Land registry department.
A source at the Pakistan High Commission further said that the papers were officially attested and verified before being sent to Pakistan. Another source at the FCO said that it received papers in post from the lawyers and all papers were attested as per legal requirements.
Hasan said he has answered all the JIT’s questions regarding the companies and assets he owns in Britain and handed over all the relevant documents as well.
He has also said that all the companies he owns are registered with regulatory and tax authorities in Britain and all aspects of his businesses are legal.
Hassan, after his appearance in front of the JIT, alleged that the children of Nawaz Sharif were being summoned by the JIT to pressurise him and bring to standstill the progress and prosperity of Pakistan.