ISLAMABAD: The NAB is presently examining all cases of offshore companies, including those unearthed by the Panama Papers to ensure across-the-board accountability.
NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal told The News here on Monday that he was presently studying the cases of offshore companies to see what wrong had been done.The mere opening of an offshore company was not illegal, he said, explaining that only those who had misused such companies would be proceeded against. He said that NAB had to first determine what crime had been committed.
When the newly-appointed chairman NAB was asked if the Panama Papers probe by NAB would also go beyond Nawaz Sharif and his family, he said, “Yes, I am presently examining cases of all offshore companies.”
“There will be no pick and choose policy but across-the-board accountability,” he assured, adding that NAB is not an institution to be used either for victimisation or for politics. Although, the Panama Papers had named over 400 Pakistanis owning offshore companies, during the last one and a half years only the cases of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children have been probed following the orders of the apex court.
In April last year, the ICIJ had revealed names throughout the world, including of Pakistani politicians, businessmen, bankers as well as a serving high court judge and a retired judge, who were reported to have offshore companies. Over 400 Pakistanis were identified in the Panama Papers to have offshore companies.
Following the disclosures of the ICIJ, neither NAB nor FIA had shown any interest to probe the matter. This indifference on part of the top two anti-corruption state institutions led to some of the political parties approaching the apex court to get the matter probed.
Different petitions were filed, including some demanding probe against all those named in the offshore companies; however the SC chose to take up the case of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children only. A JIT was also constituted to probe the Sharifs, which led to Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification and consequent ouster from the office of the prime minister.
During the hearing of the Panama case and even after Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification, one of the petitioners — Sirajul Haq, Jamaat-e-Islami chief — has been demanding of the apex court to try all those who have offshore companies abroad.
After the Panama Leaks, The News also unearthed the offshore companies of PTI chief Imran Khan and his key lieutenant Jehangir Tareen against whom the PML-N had also filed a petition in the apex court. The case against Khan and Tareen is being presently heard by the Supreme Court, however, all others named in the Panama Papers remain untouched.
— Originally published in The News