RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Author)
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has denounced what he called the "slandering" of his family by his opponents in relation to an inquiry into their wealth, and insisted that there were no corruption charges against him.
Sharif was speaking in Islamabad on June 15 after he appeared before a panel investigating allegations against his family's offshore companies and money laundering.
The inquiry, which was ordered by the Supreme Court, has become increasingly politicized.
"What is happening here is not about corruption allegations against me, it is about slandering the businesses and accounts of my family," Sharif told reporters, insisting that the allegations concern his family's personal and private business and not government corruption or fraud.
"It should be noted that these allegations have nothing to do with my tenure as prime minister and are not charges of corruption," he said.
"My opponents have levied charges of corruption against me," Sharif continued. "However, neither in the past, nor in the present, have any charges of corruption been proved against me and my family."
The prime minister was questioned for nearly three hours by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) -- the first time in Pakistan's recent history that a sitting prime minister has appeared before such an investigating panel.
The Supreme Court-appointed team is comprised of senior investigators and representatives from the country's Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence.
Sharif, 67, has been under investigation since 2016 by the court.
The probe, linked to the release of the Panama Papers, focused on millions of dollars Sharif's family holds in offshore assets and whether he lied to authorities about it.
Three of Sharif's children -- his daughter, Maryam, and his sons, Hasan and Hussein -- were implicated.
The court ruled in April that there was insufficient evidence to remove Sharif from office, but ordered further investigation of the allegations.
Sharif and his family deny any wrongdoing.
The JIT has already questioned Sharif's sons. His younger brother Shahbaz, the chief minister of Punjab Province, is to appear before the panel next week.
The five-member team is expected to submit its report to the Supreme Court later this month.
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