Thursday February 02, 2023

Money laundering case: Special Court summons Shehbaz, Hamza today

October 12, 2022

LAHORE: The Special Court, Central, is likely to announce its judgment in the Rs16 billion money laundering case against Shehbaz family today. The court has summoned Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and son Hamza Shehbaz at 12 noon Wednesday after the FIA prosecutor informed the court that no money was directly deposited in the accounts of father-son duo.

Shehbaz and Hamza both had moved acquittal applications before the court on which their counsel almost completed his arguments on Tuesday. As the hearing commenced, an application seeking one-time exemption from personal appearance was moved on behalf of Shehbaz Sharif, which was accepted by the court. Hamza Shehbaz appeared before the court and marked his attendance.

During the course of proceeding, the Special Court Judge, Ejaz Awan, asked about the number of bank accounts owned by the late Malik Maqsood, also known as Maqsood Chaprasi. The FIA prosecutor, Farooq Bajwa, responded that late Maqsood had eight bank accounts to his name. The prosecutor further stated that no money was either directly deposited or withdrawn from the accounts of suspects, including Shehbaz and Hamza. However, the prosecutor said that Hamza Shehbaz is the owner and shareholder of Ramzan Sugar Mills.

The judge asked what evidence was there to substantiate that the entire money dealing was being done at Hamza’s behest. “We do not have any such evidence,” the FIA prosecutor responded.

The prosecutor, however, added that the account holders had accepted the ownership of their accounts. On the other end, counsel of the accused maintained that account owners were clueless about the depositor.

The FIA prosecutor revealed in the courtroom that the account of the late employee Gulzar was also operated by the Ramzan Sugar Mills administration. The judge asked whether he could give the same statement in writing. FIA’s prosecutor Bajwa said he was not authorised to submit a written statement.

The counsel of Shehbaz and Hamza argued that not a single witness had uttered the name of his clients. He said that in the accountability court, the records of assets of all the wives of Shehbaz Sharif were there as evidence, saying that all the assets of Shehbaz Sharif and his family were declared. He argued that the NAB law has priority over all other laws.

The counsel said that in the Moonis Elahi case, the High Court also dismissed the money laundering case on the same basis. He said the High Court’s decision applies even if the challan was submitted. A case of assets from 2008 to 2018 has been made in the accountability court and the case on money laundering from 2008 to 2018 has also been made, the counsel argued.

The court inquired whether the accounts mentioned in this money laundering case are not in the accountability court. The counsel replied that the Accountability Court also mentions the accounts of Masroor Anwar and Maqsood Ahmed. He argued that the then adviser on accountability, Shahzad Akbar, was looking into NAB and money laundering cases and it was his malicious intent that these accounts were not investigated.

The counsel said that these accounts were deliberately not included in the NAB’s case because there was a malicious intent that a separate case would be made from them, the counsel added. The judge, while concluding the hearing, asked both parties to conclude arguments by today and summoned Shehbaz and Hamza.