–PM aide claims over $26 million were transferred to accounts of Sharif family members
ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar on Monday challenged Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif to come through with his promise of filing a case against him over a news story which accused the former Punjab chief minister of misappropriating funds.
Speaking at a press conference in the federal capital, Akbar said: “You must sue me and sue me in a court in London. And in that court, I will produce evidence of every TT (telegraphic transfer) made by you; how kickbacks were sent from here; how money was transferred through hundi and hawala,” Akbar said in a press conference in Islamabad.
Earlier on Saturday, British tabloid The Daily Mail had published a report accusing the Sharif family, and mainly Shehbaz Sharif and his sons, of embezzling millions of pounds of aid given by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to aid victims of 2005 earthquake and floods.
However, Shehbaz and his party hit back by accusing Shahzad Akbar of “planting” the story at the premier’s request, while the PML-N president also announced that he would sue the British newspaper as well as the prime minister and his aide.
Have decided to file law suit against Daily Mail. The fabricated and misleading story was published at the behest of Imran Khan and Shahzad Akbar. We will also launch legal proceedings against them. Btw IK has yet to respond to three such cases I filed against him for defamation.
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) July 14, 2019
Soon after, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb termed the report “baseless” and “planted” by the government in a press conference and showed pictures of the reporter’s meeting with the premier.
She said that Shahzad Akbar had met the reporter in Islamabad while PM Imran met him at Bani Gala. “The reporter came to Pakistan upon Prime Minister Imran Khan’s direction,” she added.
Further addressing the press conference, Akbar denied exercising influence in the publishing of the story.
He said that the assets beyond known means case against the Sharif family had started after the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) detected “suspicious transactions” from their bank accounts.
“According to FMU’s data foreign remittances amounting to more than $26 million were transferred to the accounts of Sharif family members more than 200 times,” he added.
The PM’s aide further stated that The Daily Mail’s Story was just a drop in the ocean as he showed the copy of a Rs20 million pay order sent to private company Messers Ali and Co. in September 2002. The company is allegedly owned by Sharif’s son-in-law, Ali Imran.
“According to the details on the pay order, this money was transferred from the earthquake reconstruction fund,” Akbar said, adding that former Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority director Naveed Ikram had admitted to paying the amount as a bribe after he struck a plea bargain with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
In response to a question about DFID’s rebuttal issued on The Daily Mail story, Akbar said it was not a separate statement and had been included in the published story. “DFID’s internal audit report also points toward irregularities,” Akbar said.
“DFID funded a project and money was stolen from those funds. It is not about DFID — it is about money stolen by [authorities] here,” he stated.
The PM’s aide also showed copies of more pay orders and demand drafts that detailed cash transfers from the earthquake reconstruction fund’s account into Imran’s company.
“Similarly, forensic analysis of Hamza Shehbaz’s declared assets indicate that about 59 per cent of his assets were built by TTs that have been proven fake,” Akbar said.
He concluded by revealing that people who the Sharif family allegedly received remittances from were all poor and destitute, running small businesses and doing petty jobs such as food vendors or construction labour.