“Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”

Why did the Panama case judgement refer Puzo’s bestseller?

The Panama case judgment starts with a reference to Godfather, a renowned novel by Mario Puzo 1969 and the epigraph selected by the author is fascinating:

“Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”

The original version in French reads as follows:

‘The Secret of a great success for which you are at a loss to account is a crime that has never been found out, because it was properly executed.’

‘It is ironical and a sheer coincidence that the present case revolves around that very sentence attributed to Balzac…”

Justice Khosa later added:
“I may, therefore, be justified in raising an adverse inference in the matter. The fortune amassed by respondent No. 1 is indeed huge and no plausible or satisfactory explanation has been advanced in that regard. Honoré de Balzac may after all be right when he had said that behind every great fortune for which one is at a loss to account there is a crime.”

“In the above mentioned sorry and unfortunate state of affairs a conclusion has appeared to me to be unavoidable and inescapable that in the matter of explaining the wealth and assets respondent No. 1 has not been honest to the nation, to the nation’s representatives in the National Assembly and even to this Court.”
The reference to Godfather is fascinating.

The story revolves around the appointing of a new “Godfather” as head of the family. People at large came to him for the specific objective of favours. The “Godfather” granted these favours. The story is built upon the obtaining of doing things- often wrong even if it involves gruesome acts like murder. The bottom line of determining whether or not the steps are correct depends on whether these are personal actions or business oriented ones. Business actions made steps taken to achieve the object legit.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif has been cleared of charges. The court has ordered proposed JIT to investigate allegations against Nawaz Sharif, his sons Hassan and Hussain.

The facts as they stand are:

. JIT has been formed.

. The operating part of the judgment the JIT will constitute of representatives from National Accountability Bureau, State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Investigation Agency, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence.

Interestingly, in the judgment Khosa notes:

“These petitions had been entertained by this Court in the backdrop of an unfortunate refusal/failure on the part of all the relevant institutions in the country like the National Accountability Bureau, the Federal Investigation Agency, the State Bank of Pakistan, the Federal Board of Revenue, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and the Speaker of the National Assembly to inquire into or investigate the matter or to refer the matter to the Election Commission of Pakistan against respondent No. 1 [Nawaz Sharif].”

However, “The NAB chairman, FIA director general, SBP governor and the SECP chairman openly expressed their helplessness before the committee when they were invited by PAC Chairman Syed Khursheed Shah, saying that restrictions in their respective laws did not allow them to investigate the allegations contained in the Panama Papers.” (Dawn 21/4/2017)

Questions are raised here. All three respondents must appear before the JIT when asked. Whereas respondents No 7 & 8 are based abroad will they be ordered to stay in Pakistan to facilitate the investigation? What if investigation is not completed in time? Can the Implementation Bench award more time? Will it be fair to award time beyond the stipulated period after a long time spent the five senior honourable judges of the Supreme Court to investigate the issue?

Wajid Shamsul Hasan states, “Opposition leader in the Senate Barrister Ch. Aitizaz Ahsan and others too have questioned the composition of JIT itself. Except nominee of MI who would be directly responsible to the Army Chief, rest of the members of JIT including ISI representative work under various ministers for the PM. it seems to be a joke to imagine a grade 19/20 officer questioning the PM or his sons.”

. Scope of JIT has been much restricted as opposed to issues before the court who in their judgment has deposed of many related issues.

The questions raised by Supreme Court are:

– How did Gulf Steel Mill come into being, what led to its sale, what happened to its liabilities, where did its sale proceeds end up, how did they reach Jeddah, Qatar and the UK?

– Did Hussain and Hassan Nawaz, in view of their tender ages, have the means in the early nineties to possess and purchase the flats?

– Whether sudden appearance of the letters of Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani is a myth or a reality?

– How bearer shares crystallized into the flats?

– Who is the real and beneficial owner of Nielsen Enterprises and Nescoll?

– How did Hill Metal Establishment come into existence? (The JIT has been tasked also with ‘ways of gifts’ specifically the Hill Metals Establishment (HME),used to transfer a tune of excess of 840 million rupees to Nawaz Sharif during a period stretching from 2011 to 2015. )

– Where did the money for Flagship Investment Limited and other companies set up by Hassan Nawaz come from?

– Where did the working capital for such companies come from and where do the huge sums running into millions gifted by Hussain to Nawaz come from?

The JIT shall submit biweekly reports before a special bench. Upon these reports being filed, at any point during the investigation, or after the investigation, the bench has a right to pass orders for filing reference against the PM or/and others related to the case if any wrong doing is brought to light of Articles 184, 187 and 190 of the Constitution.

The agencies have not been allowed escape from their responsibility of investigation.

They will stand up and answer. How seriously the JIT will conduct the proceedings will speak volumes.

The moral questions raised here are: should the PM step down till JIT submits its final evaluation? Two out of five judges have outright disqualified him and three have suggested setting up of a Judicial Commission throwing out of court the Qatari Letter as evidence. The last is a unanimous decision. Does this leave any legs for the Prime Minister to hold on till the JIT concludes its investigation? How does this leave the status of the Prime Minister in eyes of the international community?

In the meanwhile both PTI and PPP have asked for the PM resignation. Unless a huge public pressure is built up, one does not see this happening.

Returning to Godfather – Vito Andolini known as the “Godfather” dies of a heart attack while playing with his grandson in the garden, leaving his favourite son Michael as operating head of the family. But not before a series of murders by Michael and with these deaths a peace accord by Vito between the mafia families. Michael, in adapting the ways of the Godfather travels a long, bloody road to become the true “Godfather.”

The House rules!

It was an interesting reference to Panama Judgment of Godfather – very enjoyable.

End note: The JIT being put together to investigate the paper trail from other nations cannot receive the information till before September 2018. Pakistan joined the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) based of 109 countries as late as April 2017. Under the multilateral convention, it will not be before 2018 September than Pakistan can access the information – through official channels.

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