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April 18, 2019

Money laundering case may hurt Shahbaz Sharif


April 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The latest money laundering case against the Shahbaz Sharif family appears to be the most serious among all cases presently being pursued by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against them.

Independent sources agree that the money laundering case in which the Shahbaz Sharif family is alleged to have been found involved is a general practice of big businessmen of Pakistan who don’t show their full profits to avoid taxes and thus launder their untaxed income by using Hundi and remittances modes.

However, despite this “usual practice” of big businessmen, this case may really haunt the Sharif family because of the kind of evidence about the alleged doubtful remittances worth $29 million received by different family members of Shahbaz Sharif.

For any political family that has ruled Pakistan for years, it is said, such “usual practices”, which could be overlooked for ordinary businessman, can’t be justified. It is said that though Shahbaz Sharif personally did not receive any of these remittances, it could seriously dent him politically if the alleged doubtful remittances received by all members of his family are proven in the court of law.

According to a source, if scrutiny of the sugar business alone is done, in most cases a huge amount of remittances would be found making assets of sugar mill owners/directors. It is explained that if the cost of sugar produced is Rs100, its sale value would be around Rs200, but as most of the sale is in cash they show the sale value as Rs120 and send the remaining Rs80 overseas via Hundi.

As is the general practice even in other many businesses in Pakistan, the untaxed huge profits sent abroad through Hundi are brought back to Pakistan via foreign remittances, which as per the law of the land are exempt from any questions and thus pave the way for whitening of untaxed black money.

In certain cases, the untaxed money sent abroad through informal channels is used to build offshore properties/accounts. The source said if accounts of owners of all sugar mills were checked they will show such huge incoming remittances.

Many of the sugar mills here belong to political families including those representing the PML-N, PPP and PTI. It is said that even wealth of at least two political families, doing sugar business and now representing PTI, also shows huge inflow of remittances.

Referring to the poultry business, a source said only one particular businessman in this category had annual remittance of billions of rupees. The source said it’s possible that the money that arrived in Shahbaz Sharif family accounts was partially from sugar and poultry businesses.

“The Sharifs should have been smarter and should have realized that being politicians they can be under scrutiny anytime and therefore should not have adopted such methods but I guess lust overwhelms logic,” the source said, adding that now even if they can claim immunity as remittances were exempt from scrutiny till March 31, 2018, the political damage will be done and their moral standing diminished.

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