LAHORE: A judicial magistrate on Saturday recorded statements of six bankers as prosecution witnesses in a money-laundering inquiry by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his sons.
The FIA had submitted a list of 26 witnesses, all officers of different banks, before the magistrate with a request to record their statements under section 164 of CrPC. The agency said the witnesses opened/operated fictitious bank accounts in the name of low-wage employees of Ramzan Sugar Mills owned by Shehbaz’s family. It said the bankers did this under the pressure and influence of the Sharif family owing to the position of Shehbaz Sharif as chief minister of Punjab.
On Friday, Judicial Magistrate Kamran Zafar had directed the investigating officer to produce the suspects including Shehbaz and his son Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz on Saturday for cross-examination.
However, Shehbaz and Hamza did not attend court and the magistrate recorded statements of six witnesses in the absence of the suspects. The magistrate adjourned further hearing till Sept 23.
Both father and son are on pre-arrest bail in the inquiry till Sept 25. The FIA had booked Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman in November 2020 under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 – financial fraud, impersonation and forgery – of the PPC and 5(2) and 5(3) – criminal misconduct – of the Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of the Anti Money Laundering Act. Suleman Shehbaz is absconding in the UK.
The banking court had granted the bail to Shehbaz and Hamza on June 21, a day before the first appearance of Shehbaz before the FIA.
Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2021