Money laundering case: Shehbaz, Hamza bail extended

May 22, 2022

PM Shehbaz Sharif and his son Punjab CM Hamza Shehbaz appeared before the court amid tight security, which irked presiding judge Ijaz Hassan Awan

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PM Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz. Photo: The News/File

LAHORE: A special court Saturday issued arrest warrants for Suleman Shehbaz, son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in the Rs16 billion money-laundering case after extending the interim bail of Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz till May 28.

The court also issued arrest warrants for two other accused, Tahir Naqvi and Malik Maqsood.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz appeared before the court amid tight security, which irked presiding judge Ijaz Hassan Awan.

As the hearing commenced, the judge remarked that due to the security of the prime minister, other litigants coming to the court had to suffer. Shehbaz Sharif responded that he was appearing before the court in a bid to maintain its dignity and follow the laws of the country. He also informed the court that he had ordered his security not to bar anyone from entering the court premises.

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During the course of hearing, newly-appointed prosecutor of the Federal Investigation Agency Farooq Bajwa contended that three of the suspects in the case were absconders. The prosecutor submitted an application before the court to take action against them. To which, the judge responded that the accused were declared as absconders by a magisterial court. The prosecutor replied that the application had been moved to complete the process. The prosecutor further argued that proceedings should be completed to declare the suspects as absconders otherwise it would benefit the accused.

Counsel for the Shehbaz family Amjad Pervez argued that charges were filed against his clients between 2008 and 2018 and the prosecution team had removed many of them in the challan. He said that the prosecution's case was based on benami accounts. The counsel argued that it was alleged that money-laundering had taken place through these accounts. However, no witness had stated that Shehbaz Sharif had been a part of the sugar mill management and his client had no share in those bank accounts.

The counsel claimed that not a single penny had been transferred from the accounts to Shehbaz Sharif's account in 10 years. The counsel argued that there was no evidence that Shehbaz Sharif had ever taken any money from these accounts. The record submitted by the FIA was insufficient to prove the charges levelled against his clients, he argued.

During the hearing, Shehbaz Sharif, while addressing the court, said that he had served as the Chief Minister of the Punjab for 10 years but had never drawn any salary. He said that he had managed his official tours through his own money and used to get the government car refuelled from his own pocket. Shehbaz claimed that he had saved billions of the nation’s money.

"I had lived in the United Kingdom and did business there. However, UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) could not find even one rupee of corruption against me despite conducting an investigation for two years,” he said. He said that he came back in 2004, adding that if he had ill-gotten money, he would not return. He said cases against him were politically motivated.

The court has adjourned till May 28.

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