The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore on Tuesday said that it has arrested a suspect who allegedly made illegal telegraphic transfers (TTs) for the family of PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif — a development it deemed "pivotal" in the money laundering and assets-beyond-known-means-of-income probes.
The corruption watchdog's Lahore chapter, in a press release, stated that the suspect named Aftab Mehmood was arrested on the basis of "important evidence" provided by another suspect, identified as Shahid Shafiq, who was himself detained two days ago.
"Both the detained suspects are cousins and had been illegally transferring funds into the Sharif family's accounts through mutual coordination," the bureau said.
NAB Lahore alleged that "Mehmood, through a foreign currency exchange named Usman International operated simultaneously from London and Birmingham and created bogus TTs for Hamza and Salman Shahbaz as well as others."
The bureau further said that during its investigation so far it has "found evidence of around Rs3 billion worth of alleged money laundering against Shahbaz Sharif and family".
To further enhance the probe, Mehmood will be presented in an accountability court with a view to securing his 15-day physical remand, it added.
Members of the Shahbaz family face multiple accountability cases pertaining to alleged ownership of assets beyond their means and alleged involvement in corrupt practices.
Hamza, along with his brother Salman, is accused of embezzling Rs200 million from public funds in order to build a bridge benefiting Ramzan Sugar Mills — of which he is a director — in Chiniot. The money, according to NAB, was released by then chief minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, who is also a suspect in the case.
Hamza is also accused of owning assets beyond means and is being probed by a combined investigation team from NAB.