LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Lahore, on Friday grilled Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz for about three hours mainly on money laundering charges against him and termed his reply “unsatisfactory”.
Hamza, son of PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, reached the NAB office at Thokar Niaz Baig along with his family spokesperson and lawyer Attaullah Tarar. A good number of PML-N workers were also present there to support their leader.
The NAB officials refused to let Tarar in the building. Hamza insisted that he was his lawyer and should be allowed to accompany him. The officials told him that “no irrelevant person” was allowed to accompany the suspect. Hamza asked Tarar to get off his car and he drove inside the NAB building.
A combined investigation team (CIT) of the NAB quizzed him for about three hours.
Officials ask him to bring documents on 16th
“Hamza was asked about various transactions related to money laundering allegedly committed by his or his brother (Salman’s) frontmen. He failed to come up with satisfactory answer to any of the queries,” a source told Dawn. The investigators also confronted him with the evidence (of his money laundering) they acquired from three arrested frontmen (of Hamza and Salman).
However, none of the three frontmen was brought face to face with Hamza. “As Hamza dodged all question, the NAB re-summoned him for April 16 with a direction to bring with him the required documents related to the investigation,” he said.
To preempt his arrest in any other case against him, Hamza had already secured pre-arrest bail in the assets beyond means, Ramzan Sugar Mills and Saaf Pani Company cases.
During an initial investigation the NAB found that Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza and Salman “accumulated assets disproportionate to their known sources of income to the tune of Rs3bn. The suspects in order to justify the acquisition of assets have mentioned foreign remittances worth Rs1.3bn.”
The investigation has further revealed that most of the remittances were fictitious and the process of remittances was used to for laundering the assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. The NAB said Salman’s ‘key frontman’ Muhammad Mushtaq (who is in NAB custody) received fictitious remittances of Rs600 million in his accounts on his (Salman’s) behalf in order to conceal the origin of funds and subsequently transferred the amount to Salman.
The NAB is investigating the Sharif family in money laundering and income beyond means investigation. Shahbaz Sharif skipped NAB’s hearing in this investigation and left for London where he underwent medical checkup. Salman and Shahbaz’s son-in-law Imran Ali Yousuf, who is wanted in the Saaf Pani Company scam, are also in the UK.
PML-N Punjab spokesman MPA Malik Muhammad Ahmad told a press conference that the party leadership would face the accountability of the Imran Khan government. He said if Hamza Shahbaz was not made chairman Public Accounts Committee (of Punjab Assembly), the PML-N would resign from other committees.
“We will also move court against Prime Minister Imran Khan and his adviser on accountability Shahzad Akbar and chief minister’s spokesperson Shahbaz Gill for pressuring the NAB to target the PML-N and its leadership.”
He said Imran Khan was “attacking” the provincial autonomy. PM Khan had appreciated Punjab CM Usman Buzdar for not making Hamza PAC chairman and also claimed that he made a mistake by making Shahbaz Sharif PAC chairman (National Assembly).
PML-N lawmaker Azma Bokhari asked when the NAB would investigate 18 benami accounts of Imran Khan. “We want to know the NAB investigation into the misuse of helicopter case against Imran Khan and why no probe launched against Aleema Khan in income beyond means case,” she asked.
Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2019