LAHORE: An accountability court on Monday remanded chief financial officer (CFO) of the Sharif Group of Companies in 14-day custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for investigation into alleged illegal assets and money laundering charges against the family of Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif.

The NAB had arrested Muhammad Usman, the CFO, the other day following issuance of his arrest warrant on April 3, 2019.

A team of the bureau presented the suspect before the court to obtain his physical remand.

NAB Prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua also submitted a report regarding the alleged role of the suspect in the money laundering allegedly committed by the family members of Mr Shahbaz, including his sons Hamza and Suleman.

The prosecutor told the court that the suspect’s custody was required to procure further evidence and relevant incriminating material.

Opposing the remand, a counsel for the suspect argued that his client was a professional chartered accountant and had been arrested purely on political grounds.

He said the NAB chairman in a July 28 press release stated that the reference was complete and would be filed before the trial court soon. He said no more arrests were required after completion of a reference.

To a court query, Usman said he was arrested two days ago on way to Multan, while he was informed about the grounds of the arrest last night.

The court allowed the bureau’s request and granted physical remand of the suspect till Aug 17.

The court also directed the NAB to ensure provision of medical facility to the suspect as per the law.

The report filed by the NAB stated that the suspect aided and abetted the alleged crime by managing a network for laundering funds disproportionate to the known sources of income of the Shahbaz family.

It said the suspect not only emerged as an abettor but also a money launderer as defined under section 3 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010. The suspect, as per the report, had joined the Sharif Group of Companies in 2005 and had been handling the organised system of money laundering allegedly on the instructions of Shahbaz, Hamza and Suleman.

The report alleged that Usman was also involved in handling of unexplained funds of the political family by operating proxy bank accounts of the suspects held in names of their different employees.

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2020

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