LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has completed the investigation into allegations against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Hamza Shehbaz, in the sugar scam, declaring that both have failed to present the money trail of Rs16 billion.
“Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz couldn’t submit a money trail of the Rs16bn they are accused of laundering in the sugar scam. The FIA has finalised the investigation against the duo and others in the scam and is likely to submit a challan in this regard to the trial court on Saturday (today),” an official disclosed while talking to Dawn on Friday.
The duo had earlier secured pre-arrest bail in the case till Saturday (today).
Most of the 17 suspects who the FIA investigated were those in whose names bank accounts had been opened to launder the money, the official alleged.
Mr Shehbaz’s son, Suleman, who was also nominated in the case, has been in the UK for the last few years.
“The father and son did not cooperate with the FIA during a probe spanning over a year. They did not provide answers to the queries regarding opening of accounts in the name of their (Sharifs) clerical staff and using them to launder Rs16bn,” the official said.
During the investigation, the FIA also quizzed some other employees related to Al-Arabia Sugar Mills Ltd, Ramzan Sugar Mills Ltd and the Shehbaz family-owned business entities. “Evidence against the duo was also collected from relevant departments,” he explained.
The FIA booked Mr Shehbaz and his two sons, including leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza, mainly under sections 5(2) and 5(3) (criminal misconduct) of the Prevention of Corruption Act read with 3/4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
According to the agency, while conducting a criminal investigation with respect to Al-Arabia Sugar Mills Ltd/Ramzan Sugar Mills Ltd and the Shehbaz family businesses, they discovered over Rs16bn deposited in the bank accounts opened/operated in the names of peons and clerks of the sugar mills between 2008 and 2018 when Mr Shehbaz held the Punjab chief minister’s office.
The FIA claimed to have collected ‘credible evidence’ of over Rs16bn (including gratifications from sources extraneous to sugar business) in the accounts opened and operated in the name of low-wage employees of the family’s sugar mills.
“The money received from the accounts of low-wage employees by Shehbaz was transferred outside Pakistan via hundi/hawala networks, ultimately destined for beneficial use of his family members,” the agency added.
Earlier, the FIA had accused the prime suspects of money laundering worth Rs25bn, but in the final report it mentioned to have collected evidence of Rs16bn.
Both Mr Shehbaz and Mr Hamza during their appearance before the FIA had tried to defend the charges against them but the latter insisted upon providing a money trail.
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2021