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Sunday August 14, 2022

Rs16bn money laundering case: Court confirms bail of PM Shahbaz, CM Hamza

PM Shahbaz Sharif says money laundering case against him is a ‘pack of lies’

By Web Desk
June 11, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (L) and Chief Minister of Punjab Hamza Shahbaz. — AFP/File
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (L) and Chief Minister of Punjab Hamza Shahbaz. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The Special Court (Central-I) in Lahore confirmed the bail of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, his son Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz and others in the Rs16bn money laundering case after hearing arguments on Saturday.

Announcing the verdict, which was reserved earlier in the day, the court confirmed the bail of PM Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz against the surety bond of Rs1 million each. While the bail of other co-accused were confirmed against the surety bond of Rs2 lakh each.

The court directed the suspects to submit their surety bonds within one week.

Earlier in the day, the court reserved its verdict on an application of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his son Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz seeking confirmation of bail in a case involving money laundering worth Rs16 billion.

The special court resumed its hearing of the multi-billion rupee money laundering case against PM Shehbaz Sharif, his son Punjab CM Hamza Shahbaz and others today.

On the court's call, PM Shahbaz Sharif approached the rostrum and said, “It is my right to inform the court about facts regarding my bail.”

He said that the Rs16b money laundering case registered against him and his son Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz was nothing but a “pack of lies.”

The prime minister said that FIA and NAB filed the same case against him. PM Shahbaz said he was booked in Ashiana Housing and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases.

At this, the judge asked, “Did you not have any share in them?”

“I have no share in Ashiana Housing and Ramzan Sugar Mills,” replied the prime minister. He added, “Neither I am the director of the Ramzan Sugar Mills, nor owner or shareholder.”

Giving details about the cases registered against him, PM Shahbaz said charges of abuse of powers were levelled against him in the Ashiana Housing case. He maintained that the LHC had given its ruling in the case. Later, the NAB moved the apex court against him. The NAB fled when the Supreme Court sought proof of corruption against him from the NAB.

“When I was in NAB’s custody, FIA officials visited him twice,” he said, adding that he verbally provided all the details to them.

The prime minister said that cases against him were decided on merit and he was released. “I appeared in the courts several times, why FIA is not reprimanded for not submitting challan?” asked the prime minister.

PM Shahbaz said that it seems that FIA was using delaying tactics to arrest him.

Money laundering case

In December 2021, the FIA had submitted the challan against Shehbaz and Hamza before the special court for their alleged involvement in laundering an amount of Rs16 billion in the sugar scam case.

According to the FIA report submitted to the court, the investigation team has "detected 28 benami accounts of the Shehbaz family through which money laundering of Rs16.3bn was committed during 2008-18. The FIA examined the money trail of 17,000 credit transactions."

The report added that the amount was kept in "hidden accounts" and given to Shehbaz in a personal capacity.

This amount (Rs16 billion) has nothing to do with the sugar business (of the Shehbaz family), it claimed. The money received from the accounts of low-wage employees by Shehbaz was transferred outside Pakistan via hundi/hawala networks, ultimately destined for the beneficial use of his family members, the FIA had alleged.

"Eleven low-paid employees of the Sharif group who 'held and possessed' the laundered proceeds on behalf of the principal accused, are found guilty of facilitating money laundering. The three other co-accused of the Sharif group also actively facilitated the money laundering," the agency had said.