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Avenfield reference: Nawaz says he didn’t have business affiliations with Qatari family

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif resumed Tuesday morning recording his statement in the Avenfield properties reference against the Sharif family and remarked that he wasn’t involved in any business dealings with the Qatari family.
The Avenfield reference, pertaining to the Sharif family’s London properties, is among three filed against Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) last year on the Supreme Court’s directives.
Nawaz, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar are appearing before Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir today.
While speaking about letters written by Qatari Prince Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor al Thani, Nawaz said that the letters were verified by the prince himself in a letter written to the Supreme Court.
“The JIT didn’t even record the statement of the Qatari prince.”
During the court proceedings, Nawaz in his statement once again brought up the issue of Joint Investigation Team head Wajid Zia employing the services of his cousin Akhtar Raja’s company to carry out an investigation against the Sharif family.
“Akhtar Raja’s statement in court was biased,” he said.
Nawaz also remarked that Jeremy Freeman had verified trust deeds of Comber group, Nielsen and Nescoll on January 5, 2017. “Freeman had a copy of the trust deeds at his office,” the former premier added.
Akhtar or investigating officer didn’t make any effort to obtain the copies of trust deeds from Freeman, Nawaz said.
The deposed PM also raised the issue of Akhtar Raja getting done forensics of photocopies. “Akhtar Raja should know there is no forensic review of photocopies. He emailed the documents to forensic experts in haste. Even the forensic expert was hesitant at first to conduct forensic of the documents.”
Over his alleged involvement in Dubai Steel Mills, he said that he just attended its inauguration ceremony and nothing more.
Nawaz also said that he was never the owner, director or shareholder of Capital FZE. “I was never affiliated with the business dealings of the company.”
Over the letter from the UAE’s Justice Ministry, Nawaz said that he was unaware that the letter came in response to any mutual legal assistance (MLA). “The letter was never presented as evidence in court, therefore, it cannot be used as proof,” he added.
Nawaz remarked that the 2012 Mosaic Fonseca letter presented by Zia cannot be used as a primary document, adding that the letter could not be certified as per the customary laws.
Moreover, NAB prosecutor raised objections over the way Nawaz was recording his statement.
The suspect should record his statement and he can take help from his legal counsel on certain legal points, he said. “This is no way that the story jotted down in six days is being read out loud.”
Responding to this, Judge Bashir asked the NAB prosecutor what he was trying to say. “My objections should be made part of court records,” replied NAB prosecutor.
“I own my statements. I prepared the statement with help from my legal counsel Khawaja Harris,” said Nawaz Sharif. “My throat hurts if I read for too long. This is why I asked Khawaja Harris to read my statement,” he clarified. “If NAB had a problem with it then they should’ve raised objections in yesterday’s hearing.”
After the objections from NAB prosecutor, Nawaz started reading the statement himself.
On Monday, Nawaz recorded his answers to 55 of the 128 questions asked by the accountability court. He had remarked that the prosecution had ‘failed miserably’ to prove both, its stance and any link between him and the London flats, in the Avenfield properties reference.
The deposed PM denied any involvement in Avenfield properties, adding that none of the documents produced by the prosecution connected him to any money trail leading to the Avenfield apartments.
“I was never involved or associated in any capacity in the acquisition of any real or beneficial title of the Avenfield apartments (or providing means or funds),” he said.
The three-time premier remarked that the JIT report cannot be treated as evidence as it was the report of an investigation agency. “None of the volumes of the report stands as exhibited as evidence as only a selected portion was allowed to be exhibited in court,” he said.
“The JIT carried out a one-sided investigation. They collected selected documents from departments in institutions,” he added. “None of the MLAs sent by the JIT to UK, BVI, and UAE have been produced in court, and the court’s decision should not be based on the MLAs produced or not produced.”
Nawaz also detached himself from Gulf Steel Mills, claiming that he was never associated with it. Similarly, he said that he had no involvement in Hudaibiya Papers Mills, as the company was run by his father Mohammad Sharif.