LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday questioned the jurisdiction of a special court (offences in bank) to hear bail petitions of Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his son who leads opposition in the Punjab Assembly, Hamza Shehbaz, in the money laundering and sugar scam inquiry.

FIA special prosecutor Moazzam Habib argued that the matter fell within the jurisdiction of the special judge (central) as the FIR was registered by the anti-corruption wing of the agency.

Presiding Judge Sardar Tahir Sabir sought arguments in detail from the prosecutor and the counsel for the father-son due on the court jurisdiction and adjourned the hearing till Oct 20.

The judge also extended the pre-arrest bail of Shehbaz and Hamza till the next hearing.

Earlier, an agency officer said fictitious bank accounts had been discovered in the name of low-wage employees of Ramzan Sugar Mills, owned by the Shehbaz’s family.

He said a suspected banking transaction of Rs27 billion had been found in an account operated in Karachi with 13 fictitious names.

Shehbaz’s counsel Amjad Pervez said the FIA was misleading the court as the details narrated by it had no link to his client. He said the agency registered the FIR on fabricated allegations, which were already a subject matter of a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) case.

As Shehbaz and Hamza appeared for the hearing, hundreds of PML-N workers gathered outside the court to express solidarity with the party leaders. Holding placards and banners in their hands, the workers 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 the Anti Money Laundering Act. Suleman Shehbaz is absconding and residing in the UK.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2021

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