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Monday July 15, 2024

Rs16bn laundering: Court acquits Suleman Shehbaz, others

Judge issues orders on pleas filed by Suleman and other accused in case, grills FIA officer over probe

By Numan Wahab
July 11, 2023
Suleman Shehbaz. — AFP/File
Suleman Shehbaz. — AFP/File

LAHORE: Special Central Court Judge Bakht Fakhr Behzad on Monday acquitted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s son Suleman Shehbaz and others in Rs16 billion money-laundering case.

Earlier, the court had acquitted PM Shehbaz Sharif and his other son Hamza Shehbaz in this case.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) submitted answers to 27 questions, which were asked by the court during the course of hearing. The hearing was held on the pleas of acquittal of Suleman Shehbaz and other accused in the special court central.

Suleman appeared in the court along with his lawyer Advocate Amjad Parvez. The FIA lawyer told the court the inquiry was conducted by the joint investigation team (JIT), headed by the late Dr Rizwan. The court asked whether the FIA recorded statement of a single witness during the investigation. The FIA investigating officer remained silent on the question of the court.

The court asked what action was taken against those who kept changing their stance in the inquiry and investigation. Investigating Officer Ali Mardan said no action was taken.

The court asked if there was any evidence in the seven volumes of the FIA. “Tell me the fact; don’t tell the court stories. I have read everything; I will send all FIA people to jail now. Remember this, I want an answer, what was the proof of crime submitted in the challan.”

“What was the name of former DG FIA and where is he now,” the judge again questioned. To which, the FIA official responded that his name is Sanaullah Abbasi.

Suleman’s lawyer said former DG FIA Bashir Memon used to say that he was also under pressure to make the case.

The FIA prosecutor told the court that there was no direct evidence of money laundering against Suleman.

The court asked him to share if there was any indirect evidence against the accused.

Investigating Officer Ali Mardan said the action was started in the light of a report of the sugar inquiry commission.

The court said what was done by the agency against the rest of the sugar mills.

Ali Mardan said he was not aware of the action as he was not the inquiry officer of that case.

To a court query, the investigation officer said that during the investigation, details of Suleman Shehbaz’s accounts were obtained. He said money was collected in the accounts of Suleman Shehbaz and then withdrawn in cash.

The court remarked that what was crime in collecting and withdrawing money from a bank account. “That’s why, I called the FIA to tell the court why a drama had been going on for so many years,” the judge said.

The court remarked that who used to give record to Shahzad Akbar, on the basis of which he used to hold so many press conferences.

The investigation officer remained silent over the remarks of the court.

Later, the court acquitted Suleman of the charges.