Sept 7 hard day
for Shehbaz, Hamza,
summoned for indictment
in money laundering case

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LAHORE: A special court in Lahore on Saturday summoned Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz on September 7 for the framing of charges in a Rs16 billion money laundering case registered against them by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). They have already been granted pre-arrest bails in the case.

During the hearing on Friday, Shehbaz and Hamza’s lawyers submitted requests for a one-time exemption on their behalf.

Shehbaz’s lawyer Amjad Pervaiz informed the court that the premier had been advised against travelling as he was not well. “The weather was unpleasant yesterday which is why he did not come today.”

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif & Former chief minister of Punjab Hamza Shebaz Sharif

Meanwhile, Hamza’s lawyer Rao Aurangzeb said the PML-N leader had severe back pain and he had attached the medical report with the exemption request.

FIA Prosecutor Farooq Bajwa said the agency did not have any objections to accepting the exemption applications.

The FIA also submitted the death certificate of Malik Maqsood — frequently referred to as Maqsood ‘Chaprasi’ — a central figure in the case.

Bajwa said the agency was submitting the certificate after verification from the National Database and Registration Authority that Maqsood had died.

The court then stopped case proceedings against the deceased.

Separately, the FIA prosecutor informed the court that the agency had obtained the record of 19 bank accounts of Suleman Shehbaz, while the record of another seven was yet to be obtained.

“We have written to some agencies and their replies are awaited,” he added. “We have submitted details of Suleman’s properties that we have obtained so far.”

Subsequently, the court summoned Shehbaz and Hamza on Sept 7 for the framing of charges and adjourned the hearing till that date.

The FIA had booked Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman in November 2020 under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 of Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of Anti Money Laundering Act. Suleman Shehbaz is in the UK and has been declared an absconder.

Fourteen others have also been named in the FIR under sections 5(2) and 5(3) (criminal misconduct) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Shehbaz and Hamza were previously set to be indicted on May 14 but it was deferred as the prime minister was not present in the country at the time.

The case

The FIA had in December 2021 submitted the challan against Shehbaz and Hamza to a special court for their alleged involvement in laundering an amount of Rs16bn in the sugar scam case.

“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,” according to an FIA report submitted to the court.

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

This amount (Rs16bn) 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.