LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday ‘resubmitted’ investigation report (challan) in the Rs16 billion ‘mega’ money laundering case against Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza to the special court (central-1) after what the agency says ‘resolution of the jurisdiction matter.’

“The FIA Lahore had earlier submitted this challan on Dec 14, 2021 to the same special court, however, due to determination of the question of jurisdiction the challan was submitted to the special court (banking) upon simultaneous directions by both learned courts. Nevertheless, on Jan 14, 2022, the special court (banking) decided that its jurisdiction was not made out and directed that challan be submitted to the competent court. In due light of the above court order, FIA team ‘re-submitted’ challan on Monday to the special court (central-1) for the commencement of the trial under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act 1947 and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010,” the FIA said in a statement here on Monday.

The agency further said since the judge special court (central-1) was on leave the duty judge who said he was not competent, directed to resubmit the challan on Tuesday (today).

“The challan comprises a final investigation report (66 pages) along with seven additional volumes comprising 4,370 pages of documentary evidence,” the agency said.

The FIA has nominated Shehbaz Sharif and his sons — Hamza and Suleman — as the principal accused in the case. Fourteen others have been named in the FIR 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.

“Eleven low-paid employees of the Sharif group who ‘held and possessed’ the laundered proceeds on behalf of the principal accused, are found guilty of facilitating money laundering. The three other co-accused of the Sharif group also actively facilitated the money laundering,” the agency said.

The benami accounts, which had deposits totalling Rs16.3bn, were not declared by the principal accused, according to the FIA.

“The onus of proving pecuniary resources disproportionate to known sources of income and acquired ostensibly through improper means, lies on public servants,” the FIA said and added Shehbaz Sharif, then CM of Punjab, and Hamza, then an MNA, were given ample opportunities during investigation to explain the same. However, due to their persistent evasive attitude and total non-cooperation, they missed the opportunities.

Both Shehbaz and Hamza are on pre-arrest bail till Jan 28.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2022

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