Pakistan opposition vows protests to press PM to resign during investigation

Supporters of Imran Khan shout slogans against prime minister Nawaz Sharif. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2017
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Pakistan opposition vows protests to press PM to resign during investigation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani opposition party lawmakers tore up the agenda and shouted in a parliament session on Friday as they demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down during an investigation into his finances.
Opposition leader Imran Khan said he would lead protests demanding Sharif’s resignation, saying the prime minister had lost the moral authority to stay in office while being investigated.
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday there was insufficient evidence to order Sharif’s removal from office but called for further investigation into corruption allegations in connection with the so-called Panama Papers leaks.
A five-member bench was split three vote to two in favor of Sharif retaining his position.
On Friday, opposition lawmakers chanted slogans demanding Sharif’s resignation and tore up the assembly’s agenda for the day, before the speaker suspended the session, television footage showed.
“I was the petitioner in the case, the hearing continued for four months, at least I should have been allowed to speak in the parliament,” Khan, a former cricket star, later told reporters outside the assembly.
The Supreme Court, in its 549-page judgment, ordered a joint investigation team be formed to look into allegations around three of Sharif’s four children using offshore companies to buy properties in London.
The investigating team has two months to complete its inquiry, after which a special bench will decide what action to take, the court said.
The prime minister and his children deny any wrongdoing.
The joint investigation team will comprise members from six different government bodies including intelligence agencies and financial regulatory authorities.
“At least three institutions are directly under the control of the prime minister and his ministers. I don’t see how they would take a stand against the prime minister,” legal expert Farogh Naseem told Reuters.
While the court’s decision has been celebrated by Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League as a victory, legal experts and analysts say the extended investigation undermines his authority as he heads into an election due next year.


Ireland reluctant to take bite of EU’s €13bn Apple tax ruling

Updated 14 sec ago
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Ireland reluctant to take bite of EU’s €13bn Apple tax ruling

DUBLIN: An appeal by Apple and Ireland against a European Union ruling for the US firm to pay €13 billion ($16 billion) in disputed taxes is likely to be heard before the end of the year, Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said on Tuesday.
The European Commission ruled in August 2016 that Apple had received unfair tax incentives. Both Apple and Dublin are appealing against the original ruling, saying the iPhone maker’s tax treatment was in line with Irish and European Union law.
“We expect the appeal is likely to begin in the autumn,” Donohoe told journalists on Tuesday. “How long the hearings will last will depend on the judges overseeing it and could be open to either party after that to take any further action.”
The Commission told Ireland to collect €13 billion in back taxes, a figure Ireland’s finance department estimated last year could reach €15 billion including EU interest.
Interest due by Apple will be calculated after the initial €13 billion is collected, Donohoe said.
Last October the Commission said it was also taking Dublin to the European Court of Justice over delays in recovering the money that was due to be recovered in January 2017, four months on from the initial ruling.
The Commission said on Tuesday that it hoped the funds would be recovered fully as soon as possible to allow it to close the EU Court of Justice’s action against Ireland for missing that deadline, a spokesman said.
Ireland has insisted that it has acted as fast as it could to facilitate collection and management of such a large sum.
Last month it appointed managers for an escrow account to hold the money and Donohoe on Tuesday said the money would begin to be paid by Apple in a series of payments starting in the second quarter, with all funds in place by the end of the third quarter.
Donohoe said the fund would make investment decisions that are low risk and that the Irish taxpayer would be protected.
“Any loss from the fund will reside with the fund, not with the taxpayer,” he said.