LAHORE: The National Account­ability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday told an accountability court that it found no evidence of corruption or money laundering against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, his family members and others.

A prosecutor submitted a supplementary reference in the court, stating that NAB conducted a fresh investigation and found that the charges against the prime minister, his son Hamza Shehbaz, former chief minister, and others had not been found to be true.

Other accused include PM Shehbaz’s wife Nusrat, younger son Suleman Shehbaz, daughters Javeria Ali and Rabia Imran and son-in-law Haroon Yousaf.

The prosecutor said fresh investigation into the allegations was conducted in light of the new amendments introduced in the National Accountability Ordinance 1999. He said the investigation concluded that no offence under the NAB law was established.

Prosecutor told to convince court on relevance of new amendments with case

Presiding Judge Qamaruz Zaman directed the prosecutor to come up with arguments on May 24 to convince the court on the supplementary reference and the relevance of the new amendments to the instant case.

The judge also extended the pre-arrest bail of accused Haroon Yousaf and Tahir Naqvi till the next hearing.

A pleader attended the hearing on behalf of PM Shehbaz while an application for a one-time exemption from personal appearance was filed on behalf of Hamza, which the judge accepted.

Previously, the court had declared PM Shehbaz’s son Suleman, daughter Rabia Imran and son-in-law Haroon Yousaf, as absconders for avoiding their appearance in the trial proceedings.

Suleman and Yousaf ended their self-exile last year and returned to the country after securing protective bails from the courts.

In this reference, the NAB alleged that the family members and benamidars of PM Shehbaz received fake foreign remittances of billions in their personal bank accounts.

In addition to these remittances, the bureau said, billions of rupees were laundered by way of foreign pay orders, which were deposited in personal bank accounts of his sons Hamza and Suleman.

PM Shehbaz, his elder son Hamza, daughter Javeria Ali have been indicted in the reference besides other accused persons including Fazal Dad Abbasi, Rashid Karamat, Muhammad Usman, Masroor Anwar, Nisar Ahmad, Shoaib Qamar and Qasim Qayum.

Shehbaz’s wife Nusrat has been indicted through a pleader as she is still out of the country.

The NAB had arrested PM Shehbaz on Sept 28, 2020 after the Lahore High Court (LHC) refused to further extend his pre-arrest bail. He remained in the NAB’s custody for 23 days till the trial court sent him on judicial remand on Oct 20, 2020.

A LHC full bench had released PM Shehbaz on bail in April 2021 and observed that the former chief minister of Punjab faced no allegation of receiving kickbacks or ill-gotten money.

A special court in October 2022 had also acquitted PM Shehbaz and Hamza in the Rs16 billion money laundering case filed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Allowing their acquittal applications, the court had observed that there was no probability of conviction even if the prosecution evidence collected during the investigation was recorded.

In February last, the FIA also gave a clean chit to Suleman in the money laundering case.

The agency told the trial court that it found no evidence to establish the charges of committing money laundering and receiving kickbacks against Suleman.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2023

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