LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Thursday grilled PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s son Hamza Shehbaz in the sugar scam, asking him to tell who deposited large sums of money with his and his staff’s accounts.
Like his father, Hamza (the opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly) arrived at the FIA’s provincial headquarters on Temple Road with PML-N workers and provincial lawmakers to record his statement in the Rs25 billion money-laundering charges on him and members of his family in the sugar scandal.
This past week Shehbaz Sharif had also appeared before the FIA in the same investigation and recorded his statement which the latter declared ‘unsatisfactory’ and hinted at re-summoning him.
Replying to investigators’ queries, Hamza expressed his complete ignorance as to who had deposited large sums of money with his and sugar mills low cadre staff’s accounts. “I was busy in politics and did not know who deposited the amount with my account. I remained the chief executive officer of the Ramzan Sugar Mills but I have no idea who deposited billions of rupees with the accounts of the mills’ clerks and peons,’’ an official source quoted Hamza as having told the investigators.
Hamza said it was not his responsibility to satisfy the FIA investigators about who deposited the amount with his mills’ low cadre staff accounts.
Answering a question about his younger brother Suleman Shehbaz and employees of the Ramzan Sugar Mills, Hamza said he had no knowledge about this either.
“Neither Suleman, who is a director of the Ramzan Sugar Mills, and any other member of my family nor I have any assets abroad,” he said and told the investigators that his legal team would respond to these allegations in the court of law.
Asked about the anti-money laundering and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) law, he said: “I have not yet gone through them.”
The FIA team led by its Lahore director Muhammad Rizwan quizzed Hamza for over an hour.
Both father and son are on pre-arrest bail till July 10 in this case. Hamza, who was released from jail in the money laundering and income beyond means case three months ago after serving 20 months, claims to have been probed by NAB on the same charges.
Hamza’s counsel Atta Tarar, PML-N deputy secretary general, alleged that Prime Minister Imran Khan and his adviser Shahzad Akbar were directly monitoring the case. 0According to the FIA charge-sheet, “it has credible evidence that an amount of over Rs25bn (identified so far) was deposited (including gratifications from sources extraneous to sugar business) to the bank accounts of peons and clerks of Ramzan Sugar Mills, Al-Arabia Sugar Mills and fake companies.”
Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2021