The revelations in the Panama Papers also swept up Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. The world learned that his son Hussain owned four luxury flats in London’s Mayfair, held via offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands set up by Mossack Fonseca. It also emerged that Sharif’s children raised a £7m loan from Deutsche Bank against these property holdings.
The prime minister, his sons, Hussain and Hassan, and his daughter, Mariam, have all denied any wrongdoing. They said the flats belonged solely to Hussain, all relevant taxes had been paid and they had never tried to conceal their assets. Furthermore, in a statement released after the Panama Papers were published, the family claimed that as Sharif’s sons had lived abroad for more than two decades, they were not eligible to pay tax in Pakistan.
Sharif announced that a judicial commission led by a former supreme court judge would investigate what critics allege is the hiding of assets. Sharif said: ‘I want the nation to decide for themselves the reality behind these allegations, which are being levelled for the last 25 years.’
Noting that Sharif, 66, had flown to London for medical treatment, the New York Times reported rumours that the country’s prime minister would not return to his country until the investigation was complete.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan, the Pakistani cricketer turned opposition politician, who is a long-time adversary of Sharif, alleged the money for the flats was ill-gotten and told the Guardian that he wanted to hire investigators to follow the money trail.
The leader of Pakistan’s Movement for Justice party said: ‘I wasn’t surprised by the Panama Papers, but I was happy. It is disgusting the way money is plundered in the developing world from people who are already deprived of basic amenities.’
Khan added: ‘[Sharif] is caught. He is in trouble. I think he is going to find it impossible to govern Pakistan.’
Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst based in Lahore, warned: ‘If all political parties join hands [against Sharif], then Nawaz is in real trouble.’