Panama Papers probe targets Pakistani PM Sharif's daughter

Investigators probing the Panama Papers scandal on the orders of the country's Supreme Court, have summoned Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's daughter and his potentıal political heir on July 5, according to a summons from the investigation team on Tuesday.

Maryam Nawaz -- who is being touted as the next prime minister in case of a possible disqualification of Sharif if he is found guilty by the apex court -- has been named in the Panama Papers as an alleged beneficiary of two off-shore companies owned by the ruling family.

A six-member joint investigation team, which was formed last month by the Supreme Court, to look into the whistleblower scandal, is supposed to wrap up investigations by July 10.

The team will submit its inquiry report to the Supreme Court, upon which the judges will decide to disqualify or acquit Sharif.

The investigators, including members of the country's two top spy agencies -- Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence -- have already questioned Sharif, his two sons, his son-in-law, his brother and the chief minister Punjab province, Shehbaz Sharif, as well as two close aides in the past month.

According to analysts, Sharif is facing a disqualification threat as all his complaints regarding the investigation have been rejected by the Supreme Court.

Sharif, who is serving as premier for the third term, has lately come under immense pressure from the opposition and the media after the Panama Papers were leaked last year, which revealed that his two sons -- Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz -- and daughter Maryam Nawaz owned offshore companies, and properties worth millions of dollars, including luxurious apartments in London.

- Premier maintains innocence

The premier maintains his innocence and has rejected all accusations of financial irregularities against him. He has repeatedly said that all transactions made by his family members were fair and in accordance with the country's laws.

In April 2016, Sharif's eldest son, Hussain Nawaz, admitted in an interview with a local Pakistani channel that his family owned the offshore companies and the apartments in London.

He had insisted the transactions were all legal and refused to make his assets public, claiming that such a move could harm his business interests.

On April 20, a five-member bench of the Supreme Court decided not to disqualify Sharif from office but ordered further probe into the alleged Panama Papers scandal involving the premier's children.

All five judges had expressed dissatisfaction with the money trail provided by Sharif's lawyers and pointed out the failure of the country's top anti-corruption bodies in investigating the scandal.

Sharif's right-wing Pakistan Muslim League, which won the 2013 elections to claim a landslide majority, has accused the investigation team of harassing and pressurizing witnesses for "desired " statements.

The investigators, for their part, deny the charge, and themselves accuse the government of hampering investigations, and harassing their families.

The Panama Papers released by Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in April last year pointed fingers at 140 politicians worldwide, among them 11 current and former national leaders, claiming they worked with the firm Mossack Fonseca to establish shadow companies for global transactions and money laundering.

Their revelation sent shockwaves across the world, resulting in the resignation of Iceland's Premier Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and political pressure on the then British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who later admitted to having a profitable stake in a fund owned by his father.
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