Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head Wajid Zia stated on Wednesday said that there was no document to show that ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif was the owner or had remained owner of the Avenfield apartments at any point in time.
The statement was made as Defense Counsel for Nawaz, Khawaja Haris, began cross-examination of the National Accountability Court (NAB) prosecutor’s star witness in the Avenfield reference against the Sharif family.
During court proceedings, Haris asked Zia if there was any document proving that the Avenfield properties belonged to Nawaz to which Zia answered in the negative.
When the defence counsel inquired whether the law firm Mossack Fonseca had written to the JIT regarding the beneficial ownership of the Avenfield apartment, Zia stated that the team did not directly correspond with the law firm.
Nawaz’s counsel then grilled Zia if there was any document showing that any Pakistani institution had written to the British Virgin Islands Financial Investigation Agency (BVI FIA) regarding this matter, the JIT head again answered in the negative. “No, there is no document showing that any institution wrote to BVI FIA.”
He also admitted that the JIT had sent a letter to the BVI FIA seeking certification of correspondence between the agency and Mossack Fonseca in June 2012.
When Haris inquired whether BVI FIA had responded to the letter, Zia said he did not ‘recollect’ if they had.
Probing further on the matter, the defense counsel inquired whether Zia knew who directed the 2012 correspondence between BVI FIA and Fonseca. “We are not privy to this information,” replied Zia.
Responding to Haris’ question if the JIT had identified the beneficiary owner of the Avenfield apartments through letters provided by the law firm, Zia said it was partly correct. He then volunteered further information by adding that the Anti-money Laundering Regulations 2008 and Anti-money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Code of Practice 2008 were the two legal instruments used by the JIT for this purpose.
During cross-examination, Zia also admitted that he had not come across any document that proved Nawaz was amongst registered director, nominee director or share-holder of Nelson and Nescol companies. Upon Hari’s inquiry if any witness had stated that Nawaz a share-bearer of the companies, Zia replied with a swift no.
Zia answered with a no again when Nawaz’s counsel questioned whether any document outlined correspondence between his client and a government or private institution, bank or land registry in the United Kingdom or any other country.
“Any document that showing Nawaz was paying rent on the Avenfield properties?” asked Haris.
No, I did not come across any such documents, said Zia.
The JIT head also stated that he did not have any documents that proved Nawaz had paid money for purchasing of the properties. When Haris probed if Zia was aware which currency was used to purchase the apartments, the JIT head was at a loss again.