LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on a bail plea of Mushtaq Cheeni, an alleged front man of arrested Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz and his brother Salman Shahbaz, in a money laundering case.
During the preliminary hearing, the petitioner’s counsel told a two-judge bench that his client had been sent to jail on judicial remand by an accountability court. Cheeni had become an approver in the case against Hamza and Salman and recorded his confessional statement before a judicial magistrate concerned, he added.
The counsel argued that the NAB did not require the petitioner in the case and keeping him behind bars would serve no purpose. Therefore, he asked the court to release the petitioner on bail.
After hearing initial arguments, the bench comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem issued a notice to the NAB for June 26.
Cheeni in his ‘confessional statement’ had claimed to have laundered over Rs600 million for Hamza and Salman. He said he had been working for the brothers since they started looking after their family’s sugar business in 2005.
Cheeni was a wholesale dealer for Ramzan Sugar Mills and Hamza and Salman used to receive foreign remittances through bank accounts of his company – Mushtaq & Co.
The NAB alleged that Hamza maintained various accounts in different banks in which credit turnover of Rs500m was observed during 2006 to 2017. It claimed that Hamza received fictitious foreign remittances of Rs181m in one of his bank accounts, Rs2.11bn in the accounts of his brother Salman, mother Nusrat, benamidars and employees of their companies.
Hamza is in the custody of the NAB, while Salman is out of country.
Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2019