ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, one of the respondents in the Panama Papers case, submitted his reply â raising objections to accusations against him in the Joint Investigation Team’s final report â to the Supreme Court on Monday.
The response, submitted by the minister’s counsel, rejects the findings of the JIT report and claims the investigators worked beyond the mandate given to them by the Supreme Court.
The Sharif family, in its response to the apex court, also submitted similar objections.Â
âThe JIT has not mentioned any, much less cogent, reason for the apparent transgression of its mandate. The findings merit rejection for this reason alone,â the response states.
Regarding allegations in the JIT report that the respondent [Ishaq Dar] âdid not file income tax returns from 1981/82 to 2001/02â, the response states that âno evidenceâ was found âsubstantiating the said allegationsâ.
To allegations of tax evasion, the response claims that âthe perverse conclusionâ of tax evasion is âclear evidence of mala fide, and an apparent attempt to mislead the [Supreme Court] amounting to contempt.â
The JIT report claims an âexorbitant increase in assets since 2008/09 for which sources of income were not furnishedâ. Ishaq Dar invested GBP 5.5 million in BARAQ Holdings in UAE but the source of funds was not disclosed, the report claims. Out of these funds, GBP 4.97 million was given by him to his son, it adds.
The response addresses these claims by stating that the âsaid credit balance with BARAQ Holdings has been construed by JIT as an investment, whereas it was accumulated unpaid remuneration for professional advisory services..â
âGBP 4.97 million was âQarz-e-Hasna/loanâ to his son, which was also duly declared,â the reply notes.
The JIT report stated that âdichotomies on mis-declaration of assetsâ was found which was tantamount to âhiding of assets and tax evasionâ. The minister’s response counters the finding by saying that there is âno basisâ for the claims.
On the subject of alleged tax evasion in donations to charities, the reply claims that Dar has ânever claimed any tax exemption on these donationsâ. The âmala-fide is self-evident. The allegation is false, unfounded and malicious,â the reply adds.
To the JIT finding that Dar âpossesses assets disproportionate and beyond known sources of means,â the reply notes that âincome tax returns for a period spanning 23 years have already been investigated by NABâ and no âirregularities of any kindâ were revealed.
âEach and every rupee of his income and all his assets are duly explained and supported by documentary evidence, which has always been available with the concerned authorities,â claims the reply.
âThe conclusions/findings have clearly been contrived/fabricated and have no factual or legal basis whatsoever,â it states.
The Panama case JIT, formed in light of the apex courtâs April 20 judgment to probe the Sharif familyâs money trail, submitted its 60-day investigation report to the court on July 10.
The report highlighted the failure of the Sharif family to provide a money trail for its London apartments and claimed the prime minister and his children own assets beyond their known sources of income.
On Monday, the bench heard arguments from the petitioners who sought disqualification of the prime minister and initiation of cases against them in the relevant courts.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments from the respondents on Tuesday.Â