LAHORE: The alleged front man of Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz and his brother Salman Shahbaz on Monday confessed to have laundered over Rs600 million for the two brothers.
“I have been working for the two brothers since they started looking after their family’s sugar business in 2005,” said Mushtaq Cheeni in his confessional statement recorded by a judicial magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC.
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) personnel produced Cheeni before judicial magistrate Amir Raza Baitu and stated that the suspect had become an “approver” in a money laundering case against Hamza and Salman and that he was ready to record his confessional statement.
The magistrate was also told that the NAB chairman had already approved an application of the suspect to become approver in the case.
The magistrate recorded the statement of the suspect after his lawyers and the NAB team left the courtroom.
A copy of the suspect’s statement available with Dawn revealed that Cheeni, who was a wholesale dealer for Ramzan Sugar Mills, claimed that Hamza and Salman used to receive foreign remittances through bank accounts of his company, Mushtaq & Co. He had no information about the senders of the payment and was just required to issue cheques of the amounts in the name of Salman, he added.
On Saturday, a judicial magistrate had refused to record the statement of Cheeni after his lawyers and officials of the NAB insisted to stay in the courtroom.
After the magistrate recorded Cheeni’s statement on Monday, the NAB produced him before an accountability court and stated that it did not require him anymore.
A prosecutor stated that the bureau would have no objection if the court sent the suspect to jail on judicial remand. At this the court sent Cheeni to jail.
In this case, Hamza is already in the NAB custody, while Salman is out of country. The bureau alleged that Hamza maintained various accounts in different banks in which credit turnover of Rs500 million was observed between 2006 and 2017.
It also claimed that Hamza received fictitious foreign remittances of Rs181 million in one of his bank accounts, Rs2.11 billion in the accounts of his brother Salman, mother Nusrat, benamidars and employees of their companies.
Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2019