Rs16 billion money-laundering case: FIA declares Suleman Shehbaz ‘innocent’

Suleman Shehbaz

Islamabad: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has declared Suleman Shehbaz, son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, “innocent” in the Rs16 billion money-laundering case.

The FIA submitted a supplementary challan in a Lahore court on Saturday, stating that Suleman Shehbaz and co-accused Tahir Naqvi were “not found guilty”.

In July last year, Suleman Shehbaz was declared a “proclaimed offender” after he failed to appear despite being summoned. He had left Pakistan ahead of the 2018 general elections when several cases were made against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). He was also named in many cases along with his father, the current prime minister, his brother Hamza Shehbaz, and other Sharif family members.

Suleman, however, returned to Pakistan in December 2022 after spending the last four years in self-exile in the United Kingdom.

After arriving in Pakistan, Suleman joined the investigation into the case.

At the previous hearing, the judge had granted bail to the premier’s son till January 21 (today) while directing the FIA to submit its complete probe report.

In his petition, Suleman had argued that he was booked in the case without any valid reason. He said that he was declared a proclaimed offender in the case without intimating him, adding that he did not receive any summons from the court.

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

It needs to be mentioned that PM Shehbaz and Hamza Shehbaz had already been acquitted in the case last year.

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 case

In November 2020, the investigation agency booked Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34, and 109 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of Anti Money Laundering Act.

According to the FIA report, the investigation team had “detected 28 Benami accounts of the Shehbaz family through which money laundering of Rs16.3 billion was committed from 2008-18. The FIA examined a money trail of 17,000 credit transactions.”