Foreign firm moves SC to seek Volume 10 of JIT report

SENIOR lawyer Sardar Latif Khosa, who filed the application on behalf of M/s Broadsheet LLC, undertook to secure the confidentiality of Volume 10 of the JIT report.

SENIOR lawyer Sardar Latif Khosa, who filed the application on behalf of M/s Broadsheet LLC, undertook to secure the confidentiality of Volume 10 of the JIT report.

ISLAMABAD: An international firm has approached the Supreme Court to seek a copy of Volume 10 of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on the Panama Papers case for a final decision on the quantum of damages Pakistan may face over an international dispute with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, who took up the application filed by senior lawyer Sardar Latif Khosa on behalf of M/s Broadsheet LLC in his chambers on Thursday, asked the lawyer to submit additional documents, including the interim award granted by sole arbitrator Sir Anthony Evans QC in London against Pakistan. The matter will be taken up again next week.

Volume 10 of the JIT report deals with mutual legal assistance with different countries and it was sealed by the apex court on the request of JIT head Wajid Zia.

M/s Broadsheet has asked for the provision of Volume 10 of the JIT report for onward submission to the international arbitration court where both Pakistan and Broadsheet had locked horns over arbitration.

Apex court told the volume is required for final decision on quantum of damages Pakistan may have to pay over a dispute involving the company and NAB

Pakistan is facing a lawsuit of $500 million over a dispute raised by Broadsheet with which NAB had signed an agreement to help recover Pakistan’s stolen assets stashed in different offshore companies.

The dispute arose on the payment of service fees and was referred to the international arbitration in London where the litigation before Arbitrator Sir Anthony Evans QC concluded in an interim award in terms of liability under Section 4 and 6 of the Recognition and Enforcement (Arbitration Agreements and Foreign Arbitral Awards) 2011.

Mr Khosa told Dawn that Sir Evans had asked the firm to furnish Volume 10 of the JIT report to proceed further in the case. The next hearing date of the case in the arbitration court is July 16 when the final award on the quantum of damages was expected to be announced, the lawyer said.

The copy of Volume 10 of the JIT report would help determine the quantum of the damages pending in the arbitration, the application moved before the apex court said.

In terms of Section 3 and 4 of the International Obligation Assets Recovery Agreement, all expenses in investigating the hidden assets were to be borne by the firm, which was required to spend a significant amount of costs and investment under the agreement in the service of Pakistan and NAB.

NAB had signed the agreement with M/s Broadsheet — an Isle of Man registered company — in June 20, 2000 for the recovery of money and assets plundered by Pakistanis and invested in offshore companies.

Mr Khosa said Broadsheet had to approach the Supreme Court when the international arbitration asked the firm to submit Volume 10 of the JIT report obtained from Pakistan’s attorney general office and NAB.

Pakistan is facing $500m lawsuit by Broadsheet on the allegations that the firm had not received $1.5m from NAB.

NAB had agreed to pay, according to Mr Khosa, 20 per cent of the recovered or detected amount to the company. The bureau concluded the agreement in May 2008, paying $1.5m through a settlement agreement with a representative of Broadsheet, but the firm took NAB to the international court of arbitration, claiming that it had not received the amount it was supposed to.

The Broadsheet obligation under the agreement was to assist in bringing back through NAB the huge wealth of Pakistan hidden outside of Pakistan through corrupt and unlawful means by high-ranking officials, including Nawaz Sharif and his family.

The petition stated that the principles of policy contained in the Constitution desired the government to uplift financial well-being of the people of Pakistan. If Volume 10 of the JIT report was released, it said, the same public policy could be put to use other than the prosecutorial one. It will form a cause of action to recover the assets not only disclosed therein but also the ones beyond this part of the JIT report. Such an outcome would benefit the people and public interests of the country, the application said.

The sole source of recovery of damages were the assets of high-ranking officials unlawfully and corruptly hidden which were beyond the known means available to such high-ranking officials, it said.

Through the release of Volume 10 of the JIT report, the court would aid in honouring an international commitment made by the government/NAB and thereby aid in meeting the ends of justice, the application said.

In the petition, Mr Khosa undertook to secure the confidentiality of Volume 10 of the JIT report.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2018

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