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SCBAP, PPP agree on legislation to probe leaks

SCBAP, PPP agree on  legislation to probe leaks

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan (SCBAP) and Pakistan People Party (PPP) on Wednesday developed a consensus for introduction of legislation to probe the matters like Panama Papers. The top court’s legal body and opposition party also agreed on inclusion of new Terms of References (TORs), drawn by mutual understanding of all parties, in the said legislation as its sections of Act.
In the meeting the SCBAP recommended that in the short span of time an ordinance can be passed under which the commission may probe the matters of Panama Papers in its true letter and spirit by extending inquiry to foreign countries instead of deciding the matter with the available limited records and evidences.
A delegation of PPP led by opposition leader Syed Khurshid Shah and comprised of Aitzaz Ahsan, Saeed Ghani and Naveed Qamar called on President SCBAP Ali Zafar at main building of SC.
While rejecting the ToRs drawn by federal government, the meeting said that under these TORs it is impossible for inquiry commission to decide fate of the matter even in the years. The opposition party sought assistance from association in terms of legalities and forensic audits.
“We have brought all the political parties on one line to reject the ToRs and we have decided that accountability should start from the top,” said Khurshid Shah during the meeting and requested the association for legal assistance on forensic audit.
Aitzaz Ahsan agreed on proposal of legislation saying, it has to be conceded that a proper law is a dire need for inquiring matters like money laundering and tax evasion through off shore companies which violates domestic as well as international laws.
Opposition leader Khurshid Shah lauded the idea and said that the party will propose it in All Parties Conference on May 2, which aims to devise a joint strategy on Panama Papers investigation.
President SCBAP Ali Zafar said that federal government accepted few points of ToRs earlier drawn by legal fraternity adding government rejected those points which were ‘guarantors of transparency’ during the probe. He said that under the government’s ToRs, the commission is not empowered because it cannot extend its inquiry to foreign countries where prime minister’s money had been laundered and situated.
“The commission is only empowered to decide the matter in accordance with the limited evidences and records available within the country,” said Ali Zafar adding the association wants the commission to inquire the matter by itself and not restrict itself to the evidences.
He further suggested the delegation for mentioning the deadline of two months for completion and decision of commission and proceedings in open court in their ToRs. He further said that allocation of funds to commission members for inquiry is necessary. “In case the commission initiates inquiry and it needs assistance of international auditing firms then funds should be available with the commission members,” said president of the association. He said that support from the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) as well as units like Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative (STAR) can be moved through a Mutual Legal Assistance Request (MLAR) to provide evidence situated abroad and also to constitute international joint investigation teams.
Ali Zafar, on behalf of SCBAP, refused Aitzaz’s offer of joining APC and said that the body is not political and all it is doing for public interest.

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