SC asks AGP to wrap up arguments in Panama Papers case by tomorrow

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ISLAMABAD, Feb 21 (APP): Adjourning the hearing of the Pananma Papers case, the Supreme Court Tuesday directed the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) to conclude his arguments by tomorrow.
A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmad, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan heard the case filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and others seeking investigation into Panama Papers.
Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that the court wanted to complete the hearing of the case at the earliest, thus the court would not accept any more document. However opportunity for rebuttal would be provided, he added.
During the course of proceedings, as directed by the larger bench on the last hearing, Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry and Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Muhammad Irshad appeared in the court and recorded their statements.
The bench inquired into the investigative steps, taken by NAB and the FBR after the matter surfaced last year.
The FBR Chairman Muhammad Irshad informed the court that notices were issued to 343 individuals following the Panama Papers report in September 2016.
The owners of 39 companies were not Pakistani residents and 59 people denied ownership of offshore companies, he added.
He further stated that 92 individuals endorsed the ownership of offshore companies while 12 individuals had passed away.
Appearing before the apex court, NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry said the bureau was aware of its responsibilities.
He said that the bureau would start investigative action when it was approached by a regulator.
Laws concerning the NAB empowered the bureau to undertake investigations, Justice Khosa told the chairman.
When Justice Khosa inquired about NAB’s actions regarding bank accounts and monetary transactions, the chairman assured the apex court that investigations would be undertaken in this regard.
NAB should act as the country’s regulator, Justice Gulzar remarked.
Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali started arguments after chairman FBR and Chairman NAB recorded their statements before the court.
After the conclusion of arguments by the attorney general, counsel of the PTI Naeem Bukhari would sum up his arguments.
Meanwhile, the prime minister and his children filed another application in the court on Tuesday through their counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan
pleading that additional documents submitted by Imran Khan should not be made part of the case record.
Pleading further, they said that these documents and counter affidavit should be excluded from consideration in the interest of justice by this court since the the respondents did not get an opportunity for a response to these documents.
Otherwise, eight weeks time would be required to submit a reply to these documents through counter affidavit and the case thus needed to be listed for arguments along with two petitions.