SC issues notice to Imran over Bani Gala money trail

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Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad

A three member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar has issued a notice to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairperson Imran Khan, asking where he got the amount from to buy his Bani Gala house.
The details on Imran’s income and wealth taxes of 2001-2005 have also been demanded.
Submitting his ‘evidence’ against what he termed a ‘false statement’ by PTI regarding party funding to the court, lawyer Akram Sheikh, representing petitioner Hanif Abbasi, requested the court to disqualify Imran Khan from the National Assembly.
“Imran Khan made false statements in his tax returns,” Akram Sheikh insisted as he submitted different documents to support his position.
“Imran Khan declared his London flats through an Amnesty Scheme in 2000,” Akram Sheikh claimed as he addressed the court. After the disposal of the London flats, the offshore company became a shell company,” Sheikh alleged.
Sheikh also filed a request with the court to bring forth documents regarding the details of Imran Khan’s bank accounts, along with those of his former spouse, Jemimah Khan, and the CitiBank account of one Rashid Ali Khan.
“I request the court to ask for details of a transaction made by Imran Khan, wherein he transferred $660,693 from Jemimah’s account,” the counsel asked the court.
“If someone does not state his foreign income in his wealth or income tax statements, then he is no longer Sadiq and Ameen, he insisted.
“Your point is that he should have mentioned his flat in London and declared his offshore company in his tax returns,” the chief justice noted as he addressed the counsel.
“By quoting relevant laws, can you explain how, if a property is declared via an amnesty scheme, a person can be disqualified?” the chief justice asked Sheikh.
“The flat was sold for approximately $600,000,” Sheikh responded. “The Bani Gala estate was bought for (approximately) $300,000. Where did the other half go?”
Responding to that the counsel, Chief Justice Nisar said: “A person cannot be disqualified on mere assumptions.”
Sheikh nonetheless insisted that the matter was criminal in nature.
“The sale of the London flats and the purchase of the Bani Gala estate are merely tales. This is really a matter of money laundering,” Sheikh alleged.
“I’m sure you know more about money laundering,” Sheikh asked the chief justice.
“Do you believe me to be involved in laundering money?” Justice Nisar retorted to loud laughter in the courtroom.
“So what you’re trying to say is that Imran Khan’s claim, that his Bani Gala property was a gift, is a lie?” Justice Umer Atta Bandial asked the counsel.
“The Bani Gala property was a benami it could not have been a gift,” Sheikh maintained.
“This was a matter between a husband and wife,” responded the chief justice. “If Jemimah declared the property as a gift, then what objections can be raised against it?”

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