LAHORE: Following the arrest of Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Hamza Shahbaz a day earlier, an accountability court on Wednesday approved the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) request for his 15-day physical remand. The court also ordered the corruption watchdog to produce Hamza on June 26.
Earlier, the NAB team brought Hamza to the court amid tight security.
The anti-corruption watchdog is probing Hamza in the Ramzan Sugar Mills, Saaf Paani Project, and assets beyond known means of income cases.
NAB claimed to have found evidence of large scale money laundering through which Hamza and his family allegedly accumulated assets in the United Kingdom. Reportedly, the illegally accumulated assets are worth in between Rs85 billion and Rs100 billion and were acquired during Shehbaz Sharif’s two consecutive tenures as the Punjab chief minister.
NAB claims to have found that Hamza’s declared assets in 2003 were worth less than Rs20 million, which increased by 2,000% to over Rs410 million after his father became the chief minister in 2008.
Similarly, his brother Suleman Shehbaz’s personal fortune increased by 8,500 times to Rs3 billion.
The court was told that the investigation started when NAB discovered “the huge volume of suspicious cash transactions” in the bank accounts of Shehbaz, Hamza, Suleman and other family members.
The Financial Monitoring Unit of NAB forwarded an application to the bureau’s chairman on January 12, 2018, to investigate the transactions.
An inquiry was kicked off in October 2018 and later its status was turned into an investigation.
On April 3, NAB arrested two suspects, Qasim Qayyum and Fazal Dad Abbasi, after founding evidence of their involvement in money laundering and other corrupt practices.
During the course of the investigation, NAB found out that Qayyum ran an illegal foreign exchange business at Sadiq Plaza on Mall Road and Ali Tower M. M. Alam Road between 2005 and 2018.
Qayyum collected cash from Suleman’s office in Model Town in Lahore. He then arranged fictitious foreign remittances to the bank accounts of Shehbaz, Hamza, Suleman and other members of the family. He used the identity cards of his employees or others, showing them as the source of these remittances.