The Supreme Court Wednesday directed the federal government, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and M/s Broadsheet LLC to submit an interim arbitration award on liability of Pakistan and the NAB.
M/s Broadsheet filed a plea before the apex court for obtaining a copy of Volume-X of the joint investigation team (JIT) report on the Panama Papers. Roger Harper is a liquidator and receiver of Broadsheet firm.
During the course of proceedings, both Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor Khan and Prosecutor General NAB Asghar Haider opposed the contention of Broadsheet regarding obtaining Volume-X of the JIT report. The AGP argued that the legal firm is seeking Volume-X for producing it before the arbitration body. The good cause needs to be shown as the document has nexus with the arbitration. The document was never given to anyone till now, adding that “no one knows about its contents.”
The entire application of Broadsheet is based on an agreement between it and the NAB. Broadsheet company has to be specific about which document of the entire volume it needs.
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, heading a two-member bench, said they have to see the nature of parties’ dispute before the International Arbitration. Latif Khosa, the counsel for Broadsheet LLC, argued if the Volume-X of the JIT report is not provided then it would have a negative impact on the arbitration pending before Sir Anthony Evans, sole Arbitrator of International Arbitration in the United Kingdom.
Justice Azmat Saeed said that a three-member bench on 10-07-2017 while hearing the Panama Leaks case had passed the order that Volume-X of the JIT report would remain confidential. Latif Khosa said that 10-07-2017 order was an interim and interlocutory and was not merged with the final order; therefore, it is not in the field. He said that anybody can obtain the copy of Volume-X.
However, the PG NAB replied in the negative. He said the petitioner was not a party to that case and also has not shown reasonable cause to obtain the copy; therefore, the Volume-X cannot be provided to it. Khosa said that the document is required for arbitration before reaching any conclusion. He said if the NAB resists in this regard then there will be a negative impact on the case.
The case was adjourned till October 11. The JIT had submitted the Volume- X of the Panama Leaks against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. However, on the request of the JIT, the Volume- X of the report had been kept confidential. The foreign company M/s Broadsheet LLC had started working in 2000 for and on behalf of the government of Pakistan and NAB for detecting and recovering hidden and unlawfully obtained assets of corrupt high-ranking persons. However, disputes in respect to the agreement between the parties arose thereafter the issue was referred to Arbitration in London. The petitioner said that an interim Award on Liability of Pakistan and the NAB has been awarded and the final award on quantum of damages is awaited, which would be awarded upon submission of the missing information to be made available to arbitrator, upon a hearing in London before Sir Anthony Evans. It said that the copy sought will help assess the quantum of damages issues pending in the arbitration, which is necessitated in the interest of justice in furtherance of the international commitments of the NAB.
“The principles of policy contained in the Constitution of Pakistan desire the government of Pakistan to uplift the financial wellbeing of the people of Pakistan. The petitioner’s obligations under the agreement were to assist in bringing back, through the NAB, huge wealth of Pakistan hidden outside of Pakistan by corrupt and unlawful means of high-ranking officials, including Nawaz Sharif and his family. Pursuant to the agreement, 80 percent of any assets repatriated to Pakistan were to be paid to the republic and the NAB,” the petition added. If the Volume- X is released to the petitioner, the same public policy can be put to use other than the prosecutorial ones. 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 and will help encourage investors engaged by the government of Pakistan/NAB. Such an outcome would benefit the people and public interests of Pakistan. The petitioner’s sole source of recovery of quantum of damages were the assets of high-ranking official unlawfully and corruptly hidden and secreted and which were beyond the known means available to such high-ranking officials.