The highly anticipated Panama verdict opened with a classical quote from Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel ‘The Godfather’.

“Behind every great fortune there is a crime” was the line quoted as a five-member bench of the Supreme Court initiated its proceedings.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was given a reprieve when the Supreme Court ordered he be investigated for corruption, but ruled there was not yet sufficient evidence to oust him from power.

Nawaz and his children are accused of graft in the ongoing case which has captivated Pakistan and threatened to topple the prime minister after the Panama Papers leak last year linked the family to offshore businesses.

The Supreme Court issued a split ruling calling for a joint investigation team of anti-corruption officials along with the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence to probe the claims and issue a report within 60 days.

"A thorough investigation is required," Justice Asif Saeed Khosa told the court, presenting the 540-page written judgement which opens with the epigraph that launches Mario Puzo's 1969 novel "The Godfather ": "Behind every great fortune there is a crime".

Two of the five judges went further than the ruling, branding Sharif "dishonest" and saying he should be disqualified, but they were outnumbered.