A central figure in FIA's Rs16 billion money laundering case against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his family, Malik Maqsood Ahmad — frequently referred to as Maqsood 'Chaprasi' — has passed away in the UAE, the agency's Special Prosecutor Farooq Bajwa confirmed to Dawn.com.
Maqsood died on June 6 and was aged 49, according to a death certificate issued by UAE authorities. Dawn.com has seen the certificate and was able to confirm its authenticity from the UAE embassy.
Talking to Dawn.com, Special Prosecutor Bajwa said Maqsood's death would not impact the money laundering case. "He was a suspect and not a witness, hence his passing will not affect the case," he added.
Bajwa said the special court had already issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Maqsood.
The FIA had in December 2021 submitted a challan against 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 claimed.
This amount (Rs16bn) had nothing to do with the sugar business (of the Shehbaz family), FIA had alleged. The money received from the accounts of low-wage employees by Shehbaz was transferred outside Pakistan via hundi/hawala networks, ultimately destined for the beneficial use of his family members, the FIA 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.
Maqsood 'Chaprasi', a peon at the Ramzan Sugar Mills, was one of the proclaimed offenders in the case and the FIA had claimed the suspect had received an amount of Rs3 billion in his bank account.
According to the copy of the FIA challan, Maqsood worked as a "tea boy/peon" at the Ramzan Sugar Mills, Lahore. His last drawn salary was Rs25,000 in 2017 and then "he absconded to the UAE on March 14, 2018".
The FIA, in its challan, said at least seven benami accounts were opened in his name where an amount of Rs2966 million was transferred. "He was a resident of Lahore and it is improbable that he could operate business accounts at a geographically remote area — Chiniot".
The FIA pointed out that "three key facilitators" of the money laundering case, namely Suleman Shehbaz, Syed Muhammad Tahir Naqvi and Malik Maqsood Ahmed, had "absconded" abroad and were believed to be in the United Kingdom and the UAE.
Former prime minister Imran Khan has often accused the Sharif family of indulging in money laundering through employees of their sugar mills and frequently mentioned Maqsood Chaprasi in particular on a number of occasions, blaming Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for allegedly using factory workers to launder money — an allegation denied by the PML-N.
Additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui