LAHORE: In an attempt to tighten the noose around PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Saturday raided his business offices to lay its hands on evidence related to money laundering charges against him.
The anti-corruption watchdog searched Mr Sharif’s offices on the day when Prime Minister Imran Khan and his aide on anti-corruption Shahzad Akbar were in Lahore.
The opposition PML-N claimed that NAB’s collusion with PM Khan and his government had become quite evident after this “illegal raid”.
Sources believe that the PTI government is planning to book the opposition leader in the National Assembly in a money laundering case ahead of his return from London.
Although Mr Sharif has not announced any date for his return, the party’s Punjab chapter president, Rana Sanaullah, told Dawn that he would return next month. Mr Sharif has been on bail in the Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiyana Housing cases.
A four-member NAB Lahore team raided Shahbaz Sharif family’s offices (55-K and 91-F) in Model Town and took away computer hard drives, laptops and other important record.
A source told Dawn that the bureau launched this search on the information provided by “front men” of Mr Sharif and his sons Suleman and Hamza.
“NAB has secured important evidence from Shahbaz’s offices related to his and his sons’ suspicious telegraphic transactions (TTs) and money laundering,” he said, adding that NAB raided both offices of the companies of the Shahbaz family after getting permission from a judicial magistrate. The source further claimed that the Shahbaz family’s alleged benami companies were operated from these offices.
PM’s adviser Shahzad Akbar had been claiming for over six months that the government had “undeniable evidence” to prove that the assets accumulated by the Shahbaz Sharif’s family were funded by remittances sent from abroad through suspicious telegraphic transfers. He had said 99 per cent of the assets of Hamza Shahbaz were bought from the money remitted between 2007-08 to 2010-11 by various individuals and fake companies. Similarly, money was remitted to Shahbaz Sharif’s account, he claimed.
PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb slammed NAB’s “attack on Sharif family’s private business offices”.
“The NAB-Niazi team has been working overtime to divert attention from the wheat and sugar theft by Jahangir Tareen and Khusro Bakhtiar. The Imran-led mafia comprises such ruthless looters that they did not even spare poor people’s wheat and sugar,” she said in a statement.
“The NAB raid was a ploy to bury the inquiry report the Imran mafia was trying to hide from the public. Why isn’t the NAB-Niazi team raiding hoarding hideouts and mills of Jahangir Tareen and Khusro Bakhtiar? Imran Niazi will definitely find out how those Land Cruisers were bought and who runs the budget of Banigala,” Ms Aurangzeb said.
The former information minister said Imran Khan and his “corrupt” government’s “tools of political victimisation” must now tell the nation what was recovered from the Sharif family’s private business offices by NAB. “And the nation must be told why Tareen and Bakhtiar’s mills have not been raided by the government agencies.”
PML-N leaders Azma Bokhari and Attaullah Tarar said the party would move court against the “illegal” raid of NAB at the Sharif family’s business offices.
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2020