ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked on Wednesday that the motive behind hiding an offshore company is to hide wealth.
He made the observation while hearing a disqualification petition against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Jehangir Tareen.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab, is hearing a petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) against Tareen and PTI Chairman Imran Khan seeking their disqualification.
The petition alleges that Tareen owns offshore companies in the name of his children, shared gifts worth over Rs1.6 billion among family members, and was involved in insider trading in the shares of United Sugar Mills Limited in 2005.
Justice Bandial further remarked that it is mandatory to declare assets and wealth [for politicians seeking public office] as per the law.
Tareen’s lawyer, presenting his arguments, said that the petition has been filed as a tit for tat for a petition against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif filed by Tareen.
“The petition has been filed on a political basis,” he said.
When asked in the previous hearings what grounds he seeks to disqualify the lawmaker, Abbasi’s counsel had replied to the bench that Tareen failed to declare his offshore companies, did not pay agro tax and committed insider trading. He added that the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) sent a notice to Tareen over insider trading as well
Justice Bandial, addressing Abbasi’s counsel, observed that the petitioner has not provided any material regarding Tareen’s offshore company. The judge wondered why the counsel brought forward the matter of the offshore company if he did not have sufficient material on it.
The counsel informed the bench that Tareen showed his agriculture revenue to be Rs540 million to the Federal Board of Revenue whereas the same was shown as Rs120 million to the Election Commission of Pakistan. He said the difference is of Rs420 million in 2010.
Chief Justice Nisar responded that if he paid less income tax then it is a matter between Tareen and the income tax authorities.
This is not our concern as we are looking at issues of being honest and truthful, the chief justice observed further.
At an even earlier hearing, the bench had sought answers to five questions from Tareen’s counsel.
The questions were when was Tareen’s trust formed, when was the offshore company formed, who’s the legal and beneficial owner of the company, when and for how much was the offshore company formed, and how many times did he give funds as gifts to his children from 2002-17.