Court upholds pre-arrest bail for Shehbaz and Hamza in Rs 16 billion money laundering case – Pakistan

A special court in Lahore on Saturday confirmed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz on bail in a Rs 16 billion money laundering case registered against them by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). .

He ordered them to post bail of 1 million rupees each.

The court also confirmed the pre-arrest bonds of other suspects in the case and ordered them to submit bonds of Rs 200,000 each.

During the hearing earlier in the day, the investigator informed the court that neither he nor the previous IO had submitted a new report demanding custody of Shehbaz and Hamza.

This contradicted the statement by FIA prosecutor Farooq Bajwa, who confirmed in court at the last hearing that the agency wanted the leaders arrested.

The presiding judge of the Special Court (Central-I), Ijaz Hassan Awan, had extended the provisional bonds of Shehbaz and Hamza in the case until June 11 (today) during the last hearing. Both leaders also appeared in court today.

At the start of the hearing, the FIA ​​presented a report on non-releasable arrest warrants issued against three suspects, including Shehbaz’s son, Suleman Shehbaz, Malik Maqsood and Tahir Naqvi.

Hamza Shehbaz arriving in court. —DawnNewsTV

The report stated that the warrants could not be executed because Suleman was not present at his address and had gone abroad. Additionally, the FIA ​​had written a letter to the relevant agency to verify Maqsood’s death, according to the report.

The same was stated by FIA prosecutor Bajwa who informed the court that the agency had written to Interpol about Maqsood’s death.

The judge then ordered the FIA ​​to submit a verified report. He also made a newspaper clipping about the death part of the legal proceedings.

Shehbaz addresses the court

Prime Minister Shehbaz, while addressing the court, said the FIA ​​case was similar to one registered against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

There are cases related to Ashiana housing program and Ramazan sugar factory against me, he said. When the judge asked Shehbaz if he had any shares in these companies, the Prime Minister replied in the negative.

“In the Ashiana case, it was alleged that I abused my authority. The Lahore High Court (LHC) rendered a detailed verdict in my cases. The NAB approached the Supreme Court for the revocation of my bail and the then Chief Justice asked where the evidence of the bribery was.

“The NAB fled from there,” Shehbaz said.

The Prime Minister told the court that the FIA ​​approached him twice while he was in NAB custody, but he told them he would not respond without consulting his lawyer.

“I told them all the facts verbally. My cases were judged on their merits and I was released. Honor is also a man’s asset. Extremely serious allegations have been made against me.”

Shehbaz also said he appeared at several hearings related to the FIA ​​case but the agency did not submit a statement. chalan (investigative report) because he wanted to “create a way of arrest”.

“If I wanted to do money laundering or bribery, I would have taken the benefits I was legally entitled to. If I wanted to blacken my face with money laundering, why would I cause losses to the sweets from my family [during my tenure as chief minister]?”

The prime minister said he did not give sugar subsidies so as not to burden the public treasury, adding that he protected the Punjab treasury instead of wasting it.

“My sons had set up ethanol production plants but I imposed a tax on them,” he continued. The previous PTI government removed the tax, he added.

“I have nothing to do with the sugar trade. All the facts stated by the FIA ​​are incorrect.” He also described programs announced during his tenure as CM, including the provision of Bolan vans to the unemployed. “We got the automaker to give a rebate of Rs 2.5 billion and benefited the National Treasury.

“Judgment day will come but the FIA ​​will not be able to prove even one rupee of corruption,” he insisted. “I’ve been abroad 60 times, I’ve never taken a salary or gas [allowance]. I did not take government benefits.

“The FIA ​​alleges that I took 20 million rupees instead of party funds, but I gave up tens of millions.”

Arguments of the FIA ​​prosecutor

Meanwhile, FIA Prosecutor Bajwa informed the court that one of the suspects, Gulzar, deposited Rs20m instead of party funds. “They are political figures. When charges are filed against them, evidence is collected in this way.”

He recalled that the court had asked the FIA ​​if it had direct evidence. “We have two checks from 2013 and 2015 that were deposited by Gulzar.”

Bajwa argued that it could not happen that the investigative report was submitted while the pre-arrest bail case was ongoing. “Any evidence the FIA ​​has collected is not in bad faith. We have collected as much evidence as possible. Masroor Anwar and Usman were not part of the investigation.”

Subsequently, the court reserved its verdict on the pre-arrest bail applications.

Accusations against Shehbaz, Hamza

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

“The investigation team detected 28 Benami Shehbaz family accounts through which money laundering of Rs 16.3 billion was committed in 2008-2018. The FIA ​​examined the financial 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 personally, the report added.

This amount (16 billion rupees) has nothing to do with the sugar trade (of the Shehbaz family), he claimed. Money received from the accounts of low-wage employees by Shehbaz was transferred out of Pakistan through hundi/hawala networks, ultimately intended for the beneficial use of his family members, according to the FIA.

“Eleven poorly paid employees of the Sharif Group who ‘held and possessed’ the proceeds laundered on behalf of the main defendant, are found guilty of facilitating the money laundering. The other three co-defendants of the Sharif Group also actively facilitated the laundering money,” the agency said.

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