Tuesday October 03, 2023

Rs16bn money laundering: Court summons PM Shahbaz Sharif, son on Sept 7 to frame charges

A special court central summoned PM Shehbaz and his son Hamza for September 7 for framing of charges in the Rs16 billion money-laundering case

July 31, 2022
PM Shehbaz Sharif (left) and Hamza Shahbaz. File photo
PM Shehbaz Sharif (left) and Hamza Shahbaz. File photo

LAHORE: A special court central Saturday summoned Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz for Sept 7 for framing of charges in the Rs16 billion money-laundering case, registered against them and others by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

As the hearing commenced on Saturday, counsel for Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz moved applications, seeking one-time exemption from personal appearance of their clients.

Amjad Pervaiz, counsel for Shehbaz Sharif, submitted that his client was not feeling well and had been advised against travel by his doctors. An application of the same nature was also submitted by the counsel for Hamza Shehbaz, contending that his client was suffering from backache and he had attached the medical report with the exemption request.

The court accepted both the applications of exemption after FIA Prosecutor Farooq Bajwa informed the court they had no objections to it. The FIA prosecutor presented death certificate of Malik Maqsood alias Maqsood Chaprasi before the court, which issued orders to stop proceedings against the deceased. The prosecution informed the court that the FIA had obtained record of 19 bank accounts of Suleman Shehbaz and letters had been written to respective agencies to obtain record of seven more banks.

The FIA, in its challan, claimed that the father-son duo failed to provide a money trail of Rs16bn and declared them as the principal accused. As per the challan, the FIA declared Suleman Shehbaz as proclaimed offender in this case, along with two other accused, Malik Maqsood Ahmad and Sayed Tahir Naqvi. One hundred prosecution witnesses would record their testimony in this case as prescribed in the challan.

The challan said: “During inquiry No T34/2020 of FIA ACC Lahore, it was revealed that total deposits amounting to over Rs16 billion (duration 2008-2018), were received in bank accounts of various low-wage employees of the Ramzan Sugar Mills Ltd (RSML), Al-Arabia Sugar Mills Ltd (ASML) and accounts of fake companies set up and controlled by the Sharif Group. Rs3.7 billion in 2016-l7 deposited in accounts of a peon namely Malik Maqsood working at the office of MD Suleman Shehbaz at Sharif Groups Corporate Office, Model Town Lahore,” revealed the FIA findings. The findings revealed that “the low-wage employees of RSML/ASML admitted during the inquiry that these accounts were opened and operated for the personal/secret transactions of Suleman Shehbaz on the instructions of Muhammad Usman, CFO of Sharif Group.”

“Mushtaq Cheeni provided secret-ledgers as proof to show that the money from undisclosed safe of sugar deposited into these accounts was only Rs3.95 billion implying therein that the source of remaining funds is extraneous to the sugar business and can best be explained by Shehbaz Sharif and his sons and RSML/ASML officers who managed these accounts. Vouchers, cheques and money trails of deposits into these accounts have revealed that money was being deposited by various people at various affiliations, contractors, petroleum dealers, pharmaceutical vendors, flour and rice mills owners not related to the sugar business.”

The FIA booked Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman in Nov 2020 under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 of Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of Anti Money Laundering Act.