LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday alleged before a special court (offences in bank) that Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz had not cooperated with the investigators in the money laundering and sugar scam inquiry.

FIA director Muhammad Rizwan stated this before the court during the proceedings of pre-arrest bail petitions of Shehbaz and Hamza. The officer also produced the record of the inquiry in five boxes.

To a court’s query about completion of the investigation, the director said the suspects had not been cooperating with the agency from day one, which was the main reason for the delay in completion of the investigation. He said the Ramzan Sugar Mills, owned by the suspects, was involved in a high level financial fraud.

He said 57 fictitious bank accounts used for money laundering had been unearthed so far. These were opened in the names of 20 employees of the sugar mills during 2008 and closed in 2018.

The director claimed that Shehbaz, when appearing before the investigators, was unable to recall as to which son used to run his family business – Hamza or Suleman. And Hamza was also unaware of the millions of rupees transferred in his bank accounts, he added.

Shehbaz came to the rostrum and said the FIA director was lying before the court. The opposition leader said he was neither a director of the sugar mills nor had any financial interest in it. He said his father had established the sugar mills and he just transferred its ownership to his sons Hamza and Suleman. He claimed to have caused a huge financial loss to the sugar mills of his family only to protect the rights of sugarcane growers.

Shehbaz said he was facing a similar case before an accountability court. He said the FIA interrogated him when he was on judicial remand in the case of the NAB. He said the questionnaire of the FIA was mere photocopy of NAB’s allegations.

The court extended the bail of Shehbaz and Hamza till Oct 9 with a direction to them to cooperate with the investigation team.

Hundreds of PML-N workers gathered outside court to express solidarity with the party leaders. They chanted slogans against the government and in favour of the opposition leaders.

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 Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of 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.

DRUG CASE: A special court (Control of Narcotics Substance) on Saturday sought arguments from the prosecution on acquittal applications moved by the co-suspects of former law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan in the drug recovery case.

Khan and all the five co-suspects appeared before the court along with their counsel.

A prosecutor of the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) said the acquittal applications by the co-suspects at this stage were a tactic to delay the indictment.

The counsel for the co-suspects argued that the court was supposed to decide the acquittal applications before moving forward in the trial.

The prosecutor sought time for the arguments on the acquittal applications and the court adjourned the hearing till Oct 2.

Judge Naeem Sheikh also warned the suspects against skipping the hearings in future. The co-suspects include Usman Ahmad, Sibtain Haider, Muhammad Akram, Umar Farooq and Amir Rustam. They are drivers and private security guards of Khan.

The Anti-Narcotics Force had arrested Khan on July 1, 2019 and claimed to have recovered 15-kg heroin from his vehicle. The FIR was lodged under section 9 (C) of Control of Narcotic Substances Act 1997. He was twice denied bail by the trial court and the high court released him on Dec 24, 2019.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2021

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