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Pakistan

Web Desk
September 23, 2020

Rs7bn reference filed against Shehbaz, children: Akbar

Pakistan

Web Desk
Wed, Sep 23, 2020
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Shahzad Akbar addressing a press conference, in Islamabad, on September 23, 2020. — PID

ISLAMABAD: A Rs7 billion reference has been filed at a Lahore accountability court against PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and his family over allegations of money laundering, Prime Minister Imran Khan's adviser on accountability Shahzad Akbar announced on Wednesday .

Speaking at a press conference, he said opposition parties want a Truth Commission but they should answer to allegations of corruption and money laundering.

He then went on to list the instances of "organised money laundering" as a "birthday gift for Shehbaz Sharif".

The adviser said Shehbaz and his sons Hamza Shehbaz and Salman Shehbaz "were found involved in money laundering and fake accounts".

He said the Financial Monitoring Unit had found 177 suspicious transactions of the family and National Accountability Bureau started an investigation in this regard.

The reference comprises 55 volumes and 25,000 pages of documentary evidence including company records, bank statements and foreign remittances.

The record was compiled after a detailed investigation by NAB teams which nominated 16 accused in the reference against six family members and 10 employees.

Four of the accused had turned approvers and they disclosed their role in money laundering by the Sharif family, Akbar said.

"Money laundering worth billions of rupees was done through employees of the companies of Shehbaz and his children," he added.

He accused Shehbaz and his son Hamza Shehbaz of taking kickbacks and commissions in return for giving party tickets and projects to favourites.

"There are three benaami front companies — Good Nature [Trading] Company, Unitas Steel, Nisar Trading Concern — in this reference," he added.

According to the reference, the Sharif family made use of fake foreign remittances and engaged in "organised money laundering". Akbar went so far as to claim that Shehbaz was "heading a money laundering wing".

Shehbaz use the laundered money to pay for the custom duty of an imported land cruiser, two houses in Defence Housing Authority and villas in Whispering Pines, he claimed.

"About Rs9.5 billion were laundered through fake companies and Ramzan Sugar Mills whose employees’ salary was in the thousands of rupees but billions of rupees went through their bank accounts," he explained.

The adviser said Shehbaz Sharif should provide answers for the "organised money laundering network run by his children from 2008 and 2018".

Shehbaz should also explain the source of income of his son Salman Shehbaz and son in law Ali Imran, now living in London, he asserted.

The adviser also spoke about the relationship between Shehbaz and his niece, Maryam, who is also the party's vice-president.

"Today, on Shehbaz Sharif's birthday, his niece 'removed' him from the party," he said, terming Maryam Nawaz's denial of knowledge of a meeting between civil and military leadership "an injustice" to the former chief minister of Punjab.

"Maryam said today that Shehbaz is not Nawaz's representative," he stated.

Akbar said it was important to communicate the government's stance on corruption and money laundering.

He said in the case of Bahria Town in Supreme Court, its owner Malik Riaz made a settlement of Rs450bn and he was complying with the payment schedule.

"Anybody could make a plea bargain with NAB, pay the fine and get released," he added.

Responding to a question, he said the government made the sugar inquiry commission's report public and legal action was taken against the persons involved.

"The process of accountability will continue without any interruption and those involved in corruption will be held accountable," he said.

Akbar said the government was actively pursuing the case in courts based on the report and had made recoveries of Rs3bn to be paid to sugarcane farmers.

He said Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was also actively pursuing the case against Jehangir Tareen and Ali Tareen and notices were served to them.