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July 16, 2019

Assets from corruption money to be seized: Shahzad Akbar

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July 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar Monday claimed that most of the assets of the PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif’s family were made from telegraphic transfers (TT) and that the assets from corruption money will be seized.

Throwing up a challenge to Shahbaz Sharif, Shahzad Akbar asked him not to back awayfrom his plan of filing a case against him over a news story published in The Mail, accusing Shahbaz of embezzling money from foreign funds.

He emphasized during a news conference here that Shahbaz must sue him in London. “And in that court, I will produce evidence of every TT made by you and how kickbacks were sent from here; how money was transferred through hundi and hawala," he said.

However, Shahzad Akbar said that Shahbaz’ claims to file a lawsuit against the British paper was as hollow as his previous claim of dragging ex-president Asif Ali Zardari on the roads. He maintained that in case he filed a case, he would present proofs of money laundering before the British courts.

Shahzad Akbar pointed out that the British newspaper story covered only a small part of the corruption committed by the former Punjab chief minister. He denied that he had exercised influence in the publication of the story, widely splashed in electronic and print media besides social media.

To substantiate his contention, the special assistant showed the copy of a pay order of Rs20 million sent in September 2002 to private company Messers Ali and Co. which is allegedly owned by Shahbaz’ son-in-law, Ali Imran. “The money, according to the pay order, was transferred from the earthquake reconstruction fund,” Shahzad Akbar claimed.

The special assistant continued that former Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) Director Naveed Ikram, who had struck a plea bargain with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), had admitted to paying the amount as a bribe on this count. Shahzad Akbar also showed copies of more pay orders and demand drafts that indicated the transfer of money from the earthquake reconstruction fund's account to Ali Imran's company.

“Documentary evidence was also shared about transfer of millions of funds from ERRA accounts to Ali Imran,” he pointed out, and said that in the name of Shahbaz family, $26 million were transferred from abroad during 2007-08 in the name of over 200 people and they were so poor that they might not be able to afford fare from Lahore to Karachi. He also said millions were also paid as rent to a plaza, owned by Ali Imran, which was not even constructed.

Shahzad Akbar said that the assets beyond known means case against Shahbaz family had started after the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) detected suspicious transactions from the bank accounts of the accused. He said that FMU data showed that foreign remittances amounting to more than $26 million were transferred to the accounts of Sharif family members more than 200 times.

He noted the forensic analysis of the declared assets of Hamza Shahbaz showed that about 59 percent of his assets had been made by TTs , which had been proven fake. He said that the people who had allegedly sent remittances to the Sharif family had been found to be poor people self-employed as food vendors or labourers, who could not have realistically afforded to transfer such huge amounts of money.

On rebuttal issued by the DFID to the British newspaper, Shahbaz Akbar said it was not a separate statement and had been included in the published story. He explained that DFID's internal audit report also points toward irregularities and DFID-funded a project and money was stolen from those funds and it was not about DFID: it as about money stolen by authorities here.

Shahzad Akbar presented bank drafts and receipts of TTs to the media persons, claiming it to be a piece of evidence against Shahbaz. “Hamza’s 95 percent assets and Suleiman’s 99 percent assets were made from these funds sent through TTS,” he claimed.

He also pointed out that four companies were similar which had sent money to both Zardari and Shahbaz. He explained that with money received from TTs, a residence was built on plot H96 and a house was also purchased in Dunga Gali, his wife purchased three apartments and another house was purchased in Defence Housing and customs duty was also paid from this amount.

Shahzad Akbar said these properties could be confiscated and would be confiscated under the NAB law in the coming days and would be sold and the money accrued in, would be deposited in the national kitty.