ICYMI, a Rundown of ‘Panamagate’ and Why It Toppled Nawaz Sharif

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). 
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).  (Photo: PTI)

ICYMI, a Rundown of ‘Panamagate’ and Why It Toppled Nawaz Sharif

Pakistan's top court on Friday disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office after a damning corruption probe into his family wealth, cutting short his third stint in power and ordering a criminal investigation into his family.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Sharif was not fit to hold office after an investigative panel alleged his family could not account for its vast wealth.

The current case against Sharif and his family dates back to 2016, when documents leaked from a Panama-based law firm indicated that Sharif's sons owned several offshore companies

Also Read: Live: Nawaz Sharif Resigns as Pakistan PM After Panamagate Verdict

What Are the Panama Papers?

The "Panama Papers," published in 2016 by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), exposed the links of several influential people to secret offshore companies.

Twelve national leaders were named among the 143 politicians in the leak, which ran into 11.5 million documents. Their families and close associates from around the world were also found to be using offshore tax havens.

According to the Panama Papers, three of Sharif’s four children – Maryam, Hasan and Hussain – were owners of offshore companies and “were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several companies.”

The companies identified so far include three British Virgin Islands-based companies Nescoll Ltd, Nielsen Enterprises Ltd and Hangon Property Holdings Ltd, incorporated in 1993, 1994 and 2007 respectively.

The Pakistan Supreme Court in October 2016 heard several petitions, including by Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which accused Sharif and his family members of illegally transferring money and issued a notice to Sharif and his family members.

Also Read: Sharif Disqualified as Pak PM for Life – Will His Brother Step In?

Here's a Timeline of the Case:

  • 5 April 2016: Sharif sets up a judicial committee to investigate the allegations, denies charges.
  • 26 April 2016: Opposition parties reject the judicial commission set up by the government.
  • 1 November 2016: The Supreme Court decides to pursue a case related to Nawaz Sharif.
  • 7 November 2016: PML-N submits Qatari prince's letter to the Supreme Court containing information about the London flats that were at the centre of the Panama Papers scandal.
  • 6 January 2017: Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz submits details of assets after the Supreme Court resumes hearing.
  • 15 June 2017: Sharif appears before the JIT for questioning, becoming the first sitting Pakistan prime minister to appear before any investigating agency.
  • 5 July 2017: Sharif's daughter Maryam appears before the JIT.
  • 10 July 2017: The JIT submits final report to the SC.
  • 21 July 2017: The three-judge bench Supreme Court bench hearing the case reserves decision.
  • 28 July 2017: The five-member SC bench unanimously rules against Sharif, disqualifying him from office.

Also Read: Is Panamagate the Final Nail in Nawaz Sharaf’s Coffin?

(With agency inputs.)

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