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SC seeks details of offshore company, gifts from Jahangir Tareen

ISLAMABAD: The three-member Supreme Court bench hearing the disqualification case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Khan Tareen has sought answers to five questions from Tareen’s counsel.

The questions are when was the Jahangir Tareen’s trust formed, when was the offshore company formed, who’s the legal and beneficial owner of the company, when and for how much was the offshore company formed, and how many times did he give funds as gifts to his children from 2002-17?

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Hanif Abbasi had petitioned the apex court to disqualify Tareen and PTI Chairman Imran Khan. The petition alleges that Tareen owns offshore companies in the name of his children, shared gifts worth over Rs1.6 billion among family members, and is involved in insider trading in the shares of United Sugar Mills Limited in 2005.

The three-member bench is headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprises Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab.

At the start of hearing, the bench inquired from Abbasi’s counsel why the case is worthy of being heard in the apex court.

The counsel said the matter is of public interest.

When asked what grounds he seeks to disqualify the lawmaker, the counsel replied to the bench that Tareen failed to declare his offshore companies, did not pay agro tax and committed insider trading. He added that the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) sent a notice to Tareen over insider trading as well.

Justice Arab said every member of Parliament who is served a notice by the SECP cannot be disqualified just for being served a notice.

The chief justice remarked that an elected official cannot be disqualified on the basis of allegations and that the bench has to proceed carefully in such cases.

The hearing was later adjourned till 11:30am Thursday (tomorrow).

Speaking to the media outside the court, PTI Spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said Abbasi will go to jail over his own case.

He claimed that Abbasi lied in court and submitted false documents, adding that his counsel does not know what crime, if any, Tareen has committed.

He said Abbasi claimed Tareen’s company was named in the Panama Papers, which is not true.

The PTI spokesperson also wondered how Abbasi acquired a private SECP document, saying he will go to jail for this.

Chaudhry also lashed out at the federal cabinet members, saying every other day their private employments are being revealed.

Speaking to the media, PML-N’s Abbasi claimed the case is nearing its conclusion and will result in the disqualification of the PTI chairman. He said the banks whose receipts Imran Khan submitted in court have closed down.

Abbasi reiterated his plans of holding a press conference on Sunday wherein he will disclose how the funds of the PTI and Shaukat Khanum hospital were misappropriated.

PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz said the PTI has accepted in court today that giving gifts to children and having benamidar owners is not illegal.

On Tuesday, the bench adjourned hearing Imran’s matter till late August and instructed Tareen’s counsel to be present in court on Wednesday (today) to begin arguments.

In a report , it was stated that Tareen’s family members hid offshore companies. Tareen, as disclosed in his wealth statements from 2009-13, gifted Rs72.8 million to his son Ali Khan Tareen (tax year 2009) and the children gifted a sum of Rs45.6 million to their father. In 2010, Tareen’s children gifted Rs63.5 million to their father and his wife Amina Tareen gifted Rs7 million to her son Ali Tareen.

In 2012, Tareen gifted Rs129.9 million, his wife gifted Rs27.9 million while their children gifted Rs153 million. In 2013, Tareen gifted Rs29.9 million while the children gifted Rs104.8 million.

The petition alleges that the actual owner of the offshore companies owned by Tareen’s children is Tareen himself. However, The News reported last year that he had admitted to owning an offshore company registered in the name of his four children who own property in the UK and the offshore company linked with this property is managed through a trust.

In response to a question about why his family owns offshore companies, Tareen said it was necessary for managing assets in the UK, as serious problems regarding inheritance of property could emerge in case of any untoward situation.

Regarding exchange of gifts, Tareen said earlier this year that, “I have one of the best records as a taxpayer and all my records regarding gifts to the family and vice versa are furnished in the tax statement. I have nothing to hide as I always do legal transactions. It’s a normal thing to transact such gifts under the Pakistani law. All these gifts are duly mentioned and explained in the tax records of mine as well as my children who run independent businesses.”

“Questions are being asked whether the Sharifs used these transactions to whiten their money from abroad. I just want to point out, and this question should be asked from the Sharifs that why don’t they pay dividends to shareholders in the case of the two sugar mills, Chaudhry and Ramzan Sugar mills? That is just to conceal profits. While I pay all the dividends to shareholders of my mills, JDW,” he added.

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