Sugar scam case: Court extends bails of Shehbaz, Hamza till August 16

Published August 2, 2021
A combination photo of PML-N leaders Shehbaz Sharif (L) and Hamza Shehbaz (R). — AFP/File
A combination photo of PML-N leaders Shehbaz Sharif (L) and Hamza Shehbaz (R). — AFP/File

A sessions court in Lahore on Monday extended till August 16 the interim bail granted to PML-N leaders Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz in the sugar scam case, after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) submitted a report on their investigation into the case.

Shehbaz and his son, Hamza, are facing Rs25 billion money laundering charges in the sugar scandal. The FIA had booked them in the case under sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, the Prevention of Corruption Act and Anti-Money Laundering Act in November 2020.

Shehbaz and Hamza appeared before the court today upon expiration of the bail previously granted.

The counsel for Shehbaz, the leader of opposition in the National Assembly (NA), told the court that a National Assembly session was to commence today (Monday) and last till August 13.

He further said that his client had to attend the NA session, and requested the court to defer the case's hearing until after the session's conclusion.

At this, judge Hamid Hussain said that he was hearing the case in the capacity of a duty judge, and instructed Shehbaz's counsel to approach a special court with the request.

Meanwhile, the counsel for Hamza told the court that the FIA had issued a show-cause notice to the PML-N leader and a response had been submitted.

FIA report

The judge asked the representative of the FIA official attending the hearing about the progress made in the investigation, at which the official submitted a report pertaining to the probe.

According to the report, Shehbaz and Hamza are the owners of Ramzan Sugar Mills, which was used for "wide scale money laundering".

The report claimed that concrete evidence was available to prove the allegations against the accused. It further said that the PML-N leaders had carried out transactions through "suspicious bank accounts" between 2008 and 2018.

The FIA, in its report, also raised the concern that if the accused were allowed to remain out on bail, "it is highly likely that they will subdue the key witnesses/records pertaining to the potential transfer of laundered proceeds".

The report pointed out that "three key facilitators" of money laundering in the case, namely Suleman Shehbaz Sharif, Syed Muhammad Tahir Naqvi and Malik Maqsood Ahmed have already "absconded" to the United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates and that there was a possibility of Shehbaz and Hamza doing the same as well.

On these grounds, the FIA requested the court in the report to dismiss the pre-arrest bail petitions of the PML-N leaders.

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