LAHORE: While appearing before a court during the hearing of a money laundering case, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday claimed that the decisions he made as chief minister had “caused a loss to the sugar business of his family but protected the interest of farmers”.

As arguments of the defence counsel against the challan [investigation report] continued, the special court (central I) adjourned the hearing in the Rs16 billion case until Oct 8. The case has been registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against PM Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman.

APP quoted the premier as having told the court that the case registered against him was “totally false and frivolous”.

Former Punjab chief minister Hamza Shehbaz sought a one-time exemption from personal appearance on medical grounds.

Terms Rs16bn money laundering case ‘totally false’; judge observes Hamza should have attended hearing

Defence counsel Amjad Pervez told the court that Mr Hamza could not appear due to severe back pain.

Presiding Judge Ijaz Hassan Awan observed that Mr Hamza should have attended the hearing as it was a matter of a few minutes.

The counsel, however, said that doctors had advised Mr Hamza complete bed rest.

The prime minister stated that he had skipped a meeting of the cabinet only to attend the hearing as he had great regard for the courts and law.

Referring to the case, PM Shehbaz said his decisions as chief minister of Punjab had caused a loss to the sugar business of his family and protected the interest of farmers.

The prime minister said he refused to give subsidies to sugar mills in the province. However, the then federal government gave a Rs10 billion subsidy on the commodity. He accused the previous government of wasting courts’ precious time by initiating “baseless” cases against him and his family.

“I have sacrificed my politics and taken tough decisions only to save the country from default,” Shehbaz Sharif said, adding the government did not allow export of sugar only to serve the interest of citizens.

In his arguments, advocate Pervez contended that PM Shehbaz had no role in the business of his sons. He said no amount as alleged by the prosecution was received in the PM’s bank account. He said that FIA in its challan had mentioned countless offences against his client.

The lawyer pointed out that FIA had not mentioned in the FIR a benami bank account of Mushtaq Cheeni that had an amount of Rs2.8bn. He said the FIA had ignored Mr Cheeni but initiated proceedings against Mr Suleman.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2022

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