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April 12, 2019

PTI govt’s non-paper shows: How laundered $26m landed in Shahbaz family’s accounts

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April 12, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The money laundering case, presently being pursued by the NAB and publicised by the PTI government against Shahbaz Sharif, his first wife and two sons, talks about $26 million that was allegedly laundered through remittances and landed in the family members’ bank accounts.

This is the case that Prime Minister Imran Khan wants his party men to propagate through the media. The Sharif family as well as the PML-N, however, dub this case yet another example of political victimisation.

Although, the courts will decide if there is any substance in this case or not, the ruling PTI leadership believes it’s a most serious and concrete case against the Shahbaz Sharif family. In earlier cases like Ashiana, Saaf Pani, etc, made against Shahbaz Sharif by the NAB amid tall claims, the Bureau had to face embarrassment as the LHC found these cases to have been made with mala fide intentions.

A PTI government source shared with this correspondent a brief of the alleged money laundering case against Shahbaz Sharif and family. The same brief, it is said, has been shared with Prime Minister Imran Khan and others.

According to the brief, the case against Shahbaz Sharif and his family members, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Suleman Shahbaz Sharif and Nusrat Shahbaz Sharif, relates to “international organised money laundering” and acquiring assets beyond income.

It said the “strong evidence” clearly shows that proceeds of alleged corruption were laundered through the foreign remittance system, whereby remittances were sent to Shahbaz Sharif’s family members’ bank accounts from many countries including the UK, the UAE, Canada, Hong Kong, and the USA through the currency exchange companies.

“Each remittance has a payment instruction, which shows the amount being remitted, beneficiary, the name of remitter, purpose of remittance and country from which the remittance was sent,” the brief said.

It added that there is also evidence available showing that ‘bags of cash’ were received in Model Town by cash boys from Sharif family managers, which would then be taken to money changers to a different location for having T.T sorted through Hundi/Hawala dealers. The Shahbaz Sharif family is accused of using foreign remittances into Pakistan to launder the money. It is alleged that the amounts sent in each remittance ranged from $50,000 to $200,000.

“The total number of remittances are over 200,” the brief said, adding, “The total amount laundered through remittances which came into the family member’s accounts is over 26 million US dollars.”

It is claimed that the details of individuals sending the remittances were found through these payment instructions, copies of which were obtained from the relevant banks. Some of these ‘remitters’, it is said, have never travelled outside Pakistan. The brief said some were not even in the origin country at the time the remittance was sent to Pakistan and all those identified through the Nadra database and FIA have denied any knowledge of the remittances.

“It is clear that their identities were falsely used without their knowledge. The remaining senders of the remittances are sham,” the brief said. More importantly, it is added, the individuals sending the remittances do not have the resources or funds to send such large amounts or to invest in businesses in thousands of dollars, for example one remitter identified sells papadums (Papar) and another is a street vendor. “The individuals whose identities were falsely used have low-paid jobs and do not have the funds or profile to invest hundreds of thousands of US dollars,” the brief claimed.

It is alleged that the money from the foreign remittances comes to the family members’ bank accounts and thereafter it is allegedly used to build up the Shahbaz Sharif family business empire.

The following companies, it is said, were established with personal equities: a) Sharif Dairy Farms; b) Sharif Feed Farms; c) Sharif Poultry Farms; d) Ramzan Energy Ltd; e) Crystal Plastics Ltd; f) Sharif Milk Products; g) Madina Trading Co Ltd; h) Madina Construction; i) Chiniot Power Ltd; j) Al Arabia Sugar Mills.

It is also said that there was substantial growth in the declared ‘net’ assets of the family, particularly from 2009 to 2014. The source of the increase in assets is rooted in the foreign remittances. It added that Hamza Shahbaz Sharif’s net assets increased from Rs18.9 million in 2003 to Rs211 million in 2009. He received more than 20 foreign remittances counting for 95% of his amounting to over 2.5 million US dollars.

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