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LAHORE: The Special Court (Central) on Monday confirmed the bail of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, his son Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shehbaz and other suspects in a money-laundering case registered by the Federal Investigating Agency (FIA).
The court asked PM Shehbaz Sharif and CM Hamza Shehbaz to submit surety bonds of rupees one million each. The court also asked the co-accused to submit surety bonds of rupees two lakh each. The court also directed the suspects to submit their surety bonds within one week.
Earlier, in the day, the court had reserved its verdict on an application of the accused seeking confirmation of bail in the case involving money laundering of Rs16 billion. The court in its verdict said there is no evidence available on record about the corruption and misuse of authority against the accused Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz. The court said that the charges levelled against the suspects required further investigation, adding neither the investigating officer noted in the police dairy nor demanded the arrest of suspects for interrogation.
The court further said that as per the FIA report a politician had paid Rs14 million to Shehbaz Sharif for securing his party ticket. The court said neither the FIA mentioned the name of the politician in the case nor produced any evidence for the money paid to suspect Shehbaz Sharif.
The court further said that the FIA also failed to produce any evidence to prove Shahbaz Sharif as partner or director of Ramzan Sugar Mills. The court also said that the FIA also failed to prove that all the suspicious bank accounts mentioned in the case were opened under the directions of Hamza Shehbaz.
The court while confirming the bails of Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz said the FIA had interrogated them in the jail and remained silent for about five months. It said the FIA issued notices to the suspects after their interim bail was allowed which shows mala fide on the part of FIA.
Earlier, PM Shehbaz Sharif on court call approached the rostrum and said, “It is my right to inform the court about facts regarding my bail.” He said Rs16 billion money laundering case registered against him and his son was nothing but a “pack of lies.” The PM said that FIA and NAB filed the same case against him and that he was also booked in Ashiana Housing and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases. The court asked Shehbaz, “Did you not have any share in them?”
“Neither I was director of the Ramzan Sugar Mills, nor owner or shareholder,” Shehbaz replied. “When I was in NAB’s custody, the FIA officials visited him twice,” he said, adding that he orally provided all the details.
The FIA in December 2021 had submitted the challan against Shehbaz and Hamza before the special court for their alleged involvement in laundering an amount of Rs16 billion in the sugar scam case. According to the FIA report submitted to the court, the investigation team has “detected 28 benami accounts of the Shehbaz family through which money laundering of Rs16.3 billion was committed during 2008-18.”
The report added that the amount was kept in “hidden accounts” and given to Shehbaz in a personal capacity.
This amount of Rs6 billion has nothing to do with the sugar business (of the Shehbaz family), it claimed. The money received from the accounts of low-wage employees by Shehbaz was transferred outside Pakistan via hundi/hawala networks, ultimately destined for the beneficial use of his family members, the FIA had alleged.
“Eleven low-paid employees of the Sharif group who ‘held and possessed’ the laundered proceeds on behalf of the principal accused are found guilty of facilitating money laundering,” it further alleged.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022