Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was convicted in absentia and sentenced to 10 years in prison on corruption charges Friday. The verdict, which also includes a fine of 8 million pounds ($10.6 million), comes from a case stemming from issues brought to light by the 2015 Panama Papers.
The leak revealed that the Sharif family had links to offshore companies allegedly used to channel funds and purchase foreign assets, including four expensive apartments in London. Sharif was ousted from office last year when he could not provide a money trail explaining the purchase of these properties. Just five months ago, another court case barred Sharif from leading his political party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif and her husband Muhammad Safdar were also convited. The court ordered the seizure of the family’s four luxury apartments located next to Hyde Park in London, where the family currently lives in an “unannounced exile.”
Sharif has been a figure in Pakistani politics for decades, known for defending civilian governance while representing Pakistan’s elite. He’s served as prime minister three times, but never finished a term. His first ended in resignation from military pressure in the early 1990s; his second ended in an army coup in the late 1990s. His third ended last year after the release of the Panama Papers, although the Sharif family denies all wrongdoing.
It’s uncertain if Sharif and his daughter will actually return to Pakistan to serve their sentences. According to the New York Times, they’re currently caring for Nawaz Sharif’s ailing wife, who has cancer, in London.
The conviction is expected to hurt Sharif’s political party’s chances in the upcoming national elections. Sharif’s brother Shahbaz Sharif, who inherited leadership of PML-N, said in a statement that the party rejects Friday’s verdict.
“The decision is flawed, politically motivated and has glaring loopholes,” he said.