Special court to indict Shehbaz, Hamza on Feb 18 in Rs16bn money laundering case

Published February 10, 2022
PML-N leaders Shehbaz Sharif (L) and Hamza Shehbaz (R). — AFP/File
PML-N leaders Shehbaz Sharif (L) and Hamza Shehbaz (R). — AFP/File

A special court in Lahore on Thursday fixed February 18 for the indictment of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, his sons Hamza and Suleman, and others for their alleged involvement in laundering an amount of Rs16 billion in the sugar scam case.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had booked Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman in November 2020 under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 of Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of Anti Money Laundering Act. Suleman Shehbaz is absconding in the UK.

Fourteen others have also been named in the FIR under sections 5(2) and 5(3) (criminal misconduct) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The special court had on Jan 27 granted pre-arrest bail to Shehbaz and Hamza in the case.

During the hearing today, the FIA requested the court to cancel pre-arrest bails given to the PML-N leaders. The agency's counsel said he was ready to furnish arguments for cancellation of the bails.

The court ordered the FIA to provide copies of the challan to the suspects.

Subsequently, the court issued a short order, fixing Feb 18 for framing of charges against the suspects.

The inquiry against the PML-N leaders had been transferred from the special court for banking offences to the special court (Central-I) after the question of the courts' jurisdiction was decided on Jan 14.

Charges against Shehbaz, Hamza

The FIA had in December 2021 submitted the challan against PML-N president Shehbaz and Hamza to a special court for their alleged involvement in laundering an amount of Rs16 billion in the sugar scam case.

"The investigation team has detected 28 benami accounts of the Shehbaz family through which money laundering of Rs16.3bn was committed during 2008-18. The FIA examined the money trail of 17,000 credit transactions," according to an FIA report submitted to the court.

The amount was kept in "hidden accounts" and given to Shehbaz in a personal capacity, the report added.

This amount (Rs16bn) has nothing to do with the sugar business (of Shehbaz family). 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 FIA had alleged.

"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 had said.

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