‘Never owned Avenfield properties, Nielsen or Nescoll,’ Maryam testifies in court
The Panama Papers, published worldwide in April 2016 following a leak from law firm Mossack Fonseca, had described Maryam as “the owner of British Virgin Islands-based firms Nielsen Enterprises Limited and Nescoll Limited, incorporated in 1994 and 1993”.
Read more: ‘Panama Papers’ reveal Sharif family’s ‘offshore holdings’
While recording her testimony under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), Maryam said: “I am not and I have never been the beneficial owner of Nescoll, Nielsen companies or the Avenfield properties, nor have I derived any financial benefit from either company or the said property in any way whatsoever.”
Read: The rise and rise of Maryam Nawaz
She also challenged the authenticity of a Mossack Fonseca letter dated June 22, 2012 and investigation agencies’ claims that she was the beneficial owner of the offshore companies that owned the London properties.
Maryam pointed out to the court that the Panamagate joint investigation team did not produce the original letter in response to which Mossack Fonseca had allegedly stated that Maryam was the beneficial owner of the contentious offshore accounts.
“These documents were not certified as required by the applicable law nor were they subjected to cross-examination by me so that I could test the veracity of the contents of these documents,” she said.
Therefore, she stated, the said document could not be used as evidence against her since it would be tantamount to denying her the right to a fair trial.
Maryam also denied any involvement “in any transaction of the sale of 25 per cent of Gulf Steel Mills in 1980 and with subsequent investments.”
She said that the response to the request for mutual legal assistance was not a credible document and hence “not admissible evidence”. She claimed that a “teach-you-a-lesson mindset was behind the reference filed against me by the NAB.”
Maryam said that she has been dragged into the Avenfield property reference to pressurise her father and bring him to his knees.
She also alleged that the JIT had an agenda to implicate her family (in NAB references) by any means whatsoever.
“The JIT, in its venom and quest to implicate me, resorted to concoct and fabricate evidence against me,” she said. “This was done deliberately to avert the possibility of prosecution of the concerned for frivolous and malicious allegations and to deprive me of the right to expose the sinister design.”
Maryam said that the forces behind the investigation threaten, harass and victimise those who refuse to accept dictation and who dare to question and stand against injustice.
“I have been dragged into this case,” she said. “I have appeared in court more than 70 times despite the fact that my mother, a cancer patient, desperately needed me.”
She claimed that it had never happened in the 70-year history of Pakistan that a female appeared before the court so many times in such a short span.
“My crime is not that I was involved in corruption, misconduct or theft,” she said. “I have never even held a public office. My crime is of being the daughter of Nawaz Sharif. The schemers know that this is a very delicate relation and they think that by seeing his daughter in the court’s dock Nawaz Sharif would get blackmailed and lose his confidence.
“Traditionally, daughters in our society enjoy special status and they are treated as equal but the malice and the ego have compromised this tradition. They have set a precedent of making a daughter as the weakness of her father but I must say I will prove that I am the strength of my father.”
Election 2018 code of conduct targets PML-N: Nawaz
Former PM Nawaz, during an informal chat with reporters at the court, claimed that by barring political parties from projecting their governments’ work in the upcoming general elections, his party had been targeted.
He termed the code of conduct for the upcoming polls as “unfair” and said that the PML-N would officially express its displeasure against it.
Nawaz recalled the projects initiated during his tenure and indicated that his party stood to gain the most by projecting progress.
He criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and claimed that the Imran Khan-led party could not deliver anything worthwhile in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“Their five-year performance was disappointing,” he said. “Imran Khan can hardly point out any single project in the public sector, social sector, communications or related to energy that the KP government has delivered in their five years.”
Nawaz also questioned the nomination of Manzoor Afridi as the caretaker chief minister of KP.
“He is the brother of an incumbent senator belonging to the PTI,” he said, adding that it appeared to be a case of “billi ko doodh ki rakhwali pe bitha dia hai [a person with vested interest being put in charge]” and “andha bantay rewrian [a blind person distributing sweet treats]”.
Nawaz claimed that his current legal battle is identical to the 1999 hijacking case in which he was convicted and awarded 27 years of imprisonment.
He also discussed a BBC story that highlighted the partial ban on several media organisations in Pakistan, saying that the situation is alarming and that keeping the media under pressure is tantamount to pre-poll rigging.