A letter of credit (L/C) could prove instrumental in proving that Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and some of his family used trade-based money laundering techniques to shift illicit funds around the world.

But Sharif's counsel has challenged the validity of the L/C at the accountability court hearing the case against the family brought by Pakistan's Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

Value transfer

The JIT maintains that an L/C used by one of the companies owned by the Sharif family points to falsely declared steel shipments from the UAE to Saudi Arabia.

Prosecutors say the L/C documentation shows a shipment of scrap metal from Sharjah to Jeddah while the real shipment was a much more valuable dismantled second hand rolling machine.

Validity questioned

But the Sharif family's counsel, Wajid Zia, has questioned whether the L/C is admissible in court because the JIT did not send the L/C along with its request for mutual legal assistance to the UAE's justice ministry.

The Sharif family is facing extensive legal action related to how they obtained multiple offshore assets as described in the so-called Panama Papers leaked from Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca in 2015.

Pakistan's Supreme Court removed Sharif from the office of prime minister in the following year on the grounds of his unreported income.

This article represents the views of the author and not necessarily those of the ICC or Coastline Solutions.