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2 suspects confess to have laundered money for Shahbaz, sons

Updated August 10, 2019

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PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif. — AFP/File
PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif. — AFP/File

Two suspects on Saturday turned approvers against PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif and his two sons in a money laundering case .

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is pursuing the case in an accountability court.

The suspects, Aftab Mehmood and Shahid Rafique, recorded their statements before a judicial magistrate in Lahore today, confessing to have committed money laundering at the behest of Shahbaz and his sons, Hamza and Salman.

Another suspect in the case, Mushtaq Cheeni, had earlier also turned approver against Hamza and his brother Salman.

Mehmood, whom NAB had described as the frontman of the Shahbaz family at the time of his arrest, in his statement recorded before judicial magistrate Zulfiqar Bari confessed that he made illegal telegraphic transfers (TTs) worth more than $2.4 million to Pakistan to benefit the Shahbaz family in 2008-09.

He said he operated a money exchange named Usman International in the United Kingdom and transferred the amount through TT in the bank accounts of Hamza Shahbaz, Salman Shahbaz, Nusrat Shahbaz and Rabia Imran Ali using fake identities.

Mehmood said that his cousin Rafique — the other approver — used to collect cash against the TTs from Shahbaz family equivalent to the amount sent by him [Mehmood] in dollars.

"Those TTs were arranged in order to whiten the black money of the beneficiaries; Hamza, Salman, Nusrat and Rabia," Mehmood said, according to a copy of his statement seen by Dawn.com.

Rafique also confessed to have carried out transactions using fake identities in connivance with his cousin Mehmood.

NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal had earlier approved the applications of Mehmood and Rafique to turn approvers against the Shahbaz family. An accountability court subsequently allowed a request to transfer the suspects from jail into NAB custody in order to record their statements.

Hamza, the opposition leader in Punjab Assembly, is in NAB custody in the money laundering case while Salman resides abroad. Shahbaz, meanwhile, is out on bail.

An accountability court on Saturday extended Hamza's physical remand until August 21 after NAB said it required time for further investigation. He has been in NAB custody for 59 days.

During an initial investigation, NAB had said that it had found that Shahbaz and his sons Hamza and Salman had accumulated assets to the tune of Rs3 billion which were disproportionate to their known sources of income. “The three suspects in order to justify the acquisition of assets have mentioned foreign remittances worth Rs1.3bn,” it added.

The bureau alleged that most of the remittances were fictitious and the process of remittances was used for “laundering the assets” disproportionate to their known sources of income.