Court acquits PM Shehbaz, Hamza in Rs16 billion money-laundering case

Shehbaz Hamza case

Lahore: A major legal relief for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Hamza Shehbaz, as a Lahore-based special court on Wednesday acquitted both of them in a money-laundering case involving Rs16 billion.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had submitted a challan against Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz in December 2021 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 had “detected 28 benami accounts of the Shehbaz family through which money laundering of Rs16.3bn was committed during 2008-18. The FIA examined the money trail of 17,000 credit transactions.”

After long case proceedings, the special court acquitted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz after the FIA prosecutor informed the court that no money was directly deposited in the accounts of the father-son duo. The verdict was announced by Judge Ijaz Hassan Awan.

After the verdict was announced, PM Shehbaz took to Twitter to express his gratitude to God. In a tweet, he termed the case false and baseless, and politically motivated.

Hamza Shehbaz also hailed the verdict, saying: “Truth has achieved a great success.”

During the proceeding on Wednesday, Advocate Amjad Pervez, the counsel of both PM Shehbaz and Hamza, had requested the court to grant the PM another exemption from the hearing due to his unavoidable official engagements.

Amjad Pervez told the court that none of the witnesses recorded a testimony against the PM or his son. He accused the investigation officer of trying to present “twisted statements” of witnesses.

FIA special prosecutor Farooq Bajwa told the court that co-suspect, Masroor Anwar, had been operating the bank account of Shehbaz Sharif, adding all benami accounts were operated by employees of the Ramzan Sugar Mills.

He went on to say that the account of another suspect, Gulzar Ahmed, continued to be operated even after this death.

At this Judge, Ijaz asked the prosecutor if he had any evidence to corroborate to his statement to which Bajwa responded that the available records did not have any proof in this regard.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge had reserved his verdict in the case.

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