Rs16 billion money-laundering case: Court reserves verdict on acquittal pleas of PM Shehbaz, Hamza

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Shehbaz Hamza case

Lahore: A Lahore-based special court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on acquittal pleas filed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Hamza Shehbaz, in a money-laundering case involving Rs16 billion.

Judge Ijaz Hassan Awan head the case today.

During today’s proceedings, Advocate Amjad Pervez, the counsel of both PM Shehbaz and Hamza, 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 reserved his verdict in the case.

It is important to note that the FIA had on Tuesday told the court that no direct transaction had been made in the bank accounts of PM Shehbaz and his son from benami accounts.

The Case

In December 2021, the FIA submitted the challan against Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz before the special court for their alleged involvement in laundering an amount of Rs16 billion in the sugar scam case.

Read: FIA submits details of 45 bank accounts of Shehbaz Sharif, sons

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 Rs16.3bn was committed during 2008-18. The FIA examined the money trail of 17,000 credit transactions.”

The report added that the amount was kept in “hidden accounts” and “given to Shehbaz in a personal capacity”.

This amount (Rs16 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. The three other co-accused of the Sharif group also actively facilitated the money laundering,” the agency had said.

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