Money laundering: Reference filed against Shahbaz, family

Published August 18, 2020
Shahbaz is on pre-arrest bail granted by the Lahore High Court. — Dawn/File
Shahbaz is on pre-arrest bail granted by the Lahore High Court. — Dawn/File

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday filed before an accountability court a Rs8 billion reference of money laundering against Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, his two sons and other family members.

A total of 20 people had been nominated in the reference, including four approvers — Yasir Mushtaq, Muhammad Mushtaq, Shahid Rafiq and Aftab Mahmood.

The main suspects are Mr Shahbaz’s wife Nusrat Shahbaz, his sons Leader of Opposition in Punjab Hamza Shahbaz and Suleman Shahbaz (absconder), daughters Rabia Imran and Javeria Ali.

Other suspects are alleged bemanidars and business partners of the family including Nisar Ahmad, Qasim Qayum, Rashid Karamat, Masroor Anwar, Fazal Dad Abbasi and Shoaib Qamar.

The reference mainly accused Mr Shahbaz of being beneficiary of assets held in the name of his family members and benamidars, who had no sources to acquire such assets.

It said the family members and benamidars of the Shahbaz family received fake foreign remittances of billions in their personal bank accounts. In addition to these remittances, the bureau said, billions of rupees were laundered by way of foreign pay orders, which were deposited in personal bank accounts of Hamza and Suleman.

The reference further said family of Mr Shahbaz failed to justify the sources of funds used for acquisition of assets.

It said the suspects committed offences of corruption and corrupt practices as envisaged under the provisions of National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and money laundering as delineated in Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010. It asked the trial court to try the suspects and punish them under the law.

In this case Mr Shahbaz is on pre-arrest bail granted by the Lahore High Court. Hearing of his bail petition was scheduled for Monday, however, it could not be held due to unavailability of the relevant bench.

Hamza is on judicial remand while Suleman has been declared absconder as he failed to return from London.

Meanwhile, an accountability court extended physical remand of chief financial officer of Sharif Group of Companies till Aug 31 in the money laundering case against the Shahbaz family.

The NAB accused Muhammad Usman, the CFO, of his role in money laundering committed by the Shahbaz family.

The bureau said the suspect aided and abetted by managing a network of laundering funds disproportionate to known sources of income of the Shahbaz family. It said the suspect had joined the Sharif group of companies in 2005 and had been handling the organized system of money laundering on the instructions of Shahbaz, Hamza and Suleman.

It alleged that Usman was also involved in layering 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 18th, 2020

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