How the release date of a Microsoft font became the focus of a corruption investigation in Pakistan

The daughter of Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif is embroiled in a corruption scandal, the outcome of which could rest on the date a Microsoft typeface was released.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif is under investigation by the country’s Judicial Investigation Team (JIT) for alleged connections to property bought in London through offshore companies.

Sharif produced documents which she claimed were from 2006, which purported to show she was only a trustee of the high-end properties and did not own them. However, the documents were written using Microsoft’s Calibri font, which was not widely released until 2007.

There is a chance the font could have been used to produce the letters back in 2006. A Microsoft representative told Gizmodo that its records show a pre-release version has been around since 2004.

A representative for the man who invented the font, Lucas de Groot, told Pakistani newspaper Dawn: “Early Windows betas are intended for programmers and technology freaks to see what works and what doesn’t… as the file size of such operating systems is huge, it would have been a serious effort to get.”

The news has been met with ire online, with critics using the hashtag #fontgate to call for her father’s resignation or poke fun at the discrepancy.

The investigation is ongoing – a panel of judges will look at the JIT report next week.

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