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June 27, 2019

Hamza’s 14-day remand extended


June 27, 2019

LAHORE: An accountability court on Wednesday extended 14-day physical remand of PA Opposition leader Hamza Shahbaz to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in assets beyond means and money laundering case.

The NAB has accused Hamza of money laundering, assets beyond means and causing a loss of over Rs 210 million to the national exchequer in Ramzan Sugar Mills case. The court has granted 14-day physical remand of Hamza in assets beyond means case while has granted nine-day physical remand in Ramzan Sugar Mills case. NAB officials produced Hamza before the court amid tight security as heavy contingents of police had cordoned off the court premises. The NAB prosecutor pleaded for extension in physical remand of the accused. As the hearing commenced on Wednesday, the counsel oh Hamza argued before the court that NAB has arrested his client in violation of the law. He said that his client was fully cooperating with the NAB but the bureau arrested him before completion of inquiry against him. The counsel further argued that NAB could not issue arrest warrants before conclusion of the inquiry against any accused.

On this the bureau’s prosecutor intervened saying that all the legalities have been fulfilled in issuing arrest warrants of the accused Hamza Shahbaz. The Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) had found Hamza’s involvement in the money laundering, NAB’s prosecutor claimed. To strengthen his argument further, the prosecutor added that billions were added to the wealth of Shahbaz family but Hamza couldn’t provide his sources of income. He implored the court to extend physical remand of the accused to carry out further investigation into the case.

The court after hearing arguments of both parties extended physical remand of Hamza Shahbaz for 14 days. Meanwhile, Hamza Shahbaz said that he is being politically victimised. He said economic situation of the country is worse and to impose economic emergency in the country has become inevitable.

Previously, the NAB’s prosecutor had informed the court that as per a report of the Financial Monitoring Unit of the State Bank of Pakistan, a huge volume of suspicious transactions in the bank accounts of Hamza Shahbaz were found, following which a money laundering investigation was started against him.

The prosecutor informed the court that Hamza had total assets of Rs 18 million in the year 2003, which increased to Rs 411.630 million in the year 2017. The accused claimed foreign remittances of Rs 181 million as sources of funds for the increase in his assets. However, during the course of investigations, the foreign remittances were found fictitious, the prosecutor added. He argued that Hamza along with his other family members established 12 industrial units and funds received through fictitious foreign remittances were injected as equity or director’s loan to the tune of Rs 244 million. Out of the income claimed as capital gain, gifts and salary from companies established with the proceeds of fictitious foreign remittances, the accused acquired different assets in the form of agricultural, residential and commercial lands worth 167 million. The prosecutor said Hamza's assets increased beyond his known means of income from 2003 till 2017. Moreover, he is accused of causing a loss of over Rs 210 million to the national kitty in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case. The prosecutor said Hamza purchased many commercial and residential properties from 2012 to 2015. The NAB prosecutor said Hamza had also not declared sources of his income to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

The NAB official stated that whenever the NAB questioned Hamza, he said he would give answer in the court and refused to cooperate with the investigation team. Moreover, Hamza was served nine call-up notices but he appeared before the NAB only on five times. The prosecutor implored the court for the physical custody of the accused as the bureau needed to investigate from where Hamza acquired Rs 180 million.

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