FIA seeks court order to arrest Sharif, son in money laundering probe

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) sought a court order to arrest the prime minister and his son and the Punjab chief minister in a money laundering case against Shehbaz Sharif and members of his family.

Sharif, his son Hamza Shehbaz and members of their family are facing charges of money laundering of at least Rs16 billion using accounts operated in the name of their businesses and employees, according to the agency.

Today, when asked, Farooq Bajwa, a counsel for the agency, told Special Court (Central-I) judge Ijaz Hassan Awan the FIA wanted to take the father-son duo into custody for questioning to determine the extent of their roles in the scandal.

He, on the occasion, also presented in the court an updated report on the challan against 16 suspects nominated in the case.

Giving his arguments on the bail petition filed by Shehbaz, Amjad Pervaiz, his counsel, said the FIA had been dragging the case on for over 1.5 years but without finding success.

“Both Shehbaz and Sharif were twice interrogated in judicial lockup, which was a bad intent on the part of the agency’s officials,” he said, adding that despite the fact that statements of staff of his clients were recorded during the government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the agency failed to get anything substantial out of it.

“They even tried to get fake testimony in support of their allegations against father and son, but they got none,” he claimed.

Pervaiz said it was alleged that Sharif had laundered the money through one Mushtaq Cheeni. “But the latter was not nominated in the case. Even his confessional statement was not attached to the challan,” he claimed.

The truth of the matter was, he went on, that both my clients were subjected to political victimisation, Pervaiz declared. “All this was done as a part of political engineering,” he alleged.

However, Judge Awan allowed both the prime minister and the chief minister to leave the court.

After the completion of his arguments, the court reissued the arrest warrants for suspects Salman Shehbaz, Tahir Naqvi and Malik Maqsood.

The court adjourned the hearing after extending Sharif and Shehbaz’s interim bail until June 11.

The counsels of other suspects are to present their arguments at the next hearing.

‘POLITICALLY MOTIVATED CASES’

Later, talking to the media outside the court, Ataullah Tarar, a spokesman for the Punjab government, said the time and money of the government were wasted on politically motivated cases.

He said when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government left power in 2018, the inflation rate stood at just 4 percent.

He accused the last PTI government of wasting the state resources indiscriminately.

He further said the Punjab government had already reduced the prices of wheat flour, while now it would take steps to ensure the sale of bread to the people at cheaper rates.

“Now a competent team is in place, and all steps will be taken to reduce the prices of items of essential use,” he said, and added that from now on all ministers would pay for petroleum from their pockets.

“We have already met the target to purchase five million tonnes of wheat,” the Punjab government spokesman claimed.

Tarar claimed all appointments made in Punjab by the government were on merit.

“The PTI government, on the contrary, did nothing for the masses. Former Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar had spent billions of rupees on the renovation of the Chief Minister House,” he said, alleging that the former prime minister Imran Khan had made the country bankrupt’.

He said he had “never seen a person as coward as” former prime minister Imran Khan who had taken refuge in Peshawar.

Tarar further claimed Khan’s entire lifestyle, even the bottles of mineral water he drinks, are being paid for by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

“Even now he is living on government expenditure,” he said. “The very bottle of mineral water he drinks in Peshawar, too, is paid for by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.”

“Millions are spent over there on his security,” Tarar alleged. “He uses a government helicopter in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Even though he has left the government, his bad habits have remained.”

Tarar said the public of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa “pay millions per day for this”. He reiterated his claim that much is spent on Imran’s security, food and petrol on a daily basis.

THE REFERENCE

The reference mainly accused Sharif of being a beneficiary of assets held in the name of his family members and benamidars (frontmen), who had no sources to acquire such assets.

It said the family members and frontmen of the Shehbaz family 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 the personal bank accounts of Hamza and his brother Suleman Shehbaz.

The reference further said that the family of Shehbaz failed to justify the sources of funds used for the acquisition of assets.

It said the suspects committed offences of corruption and corrupt practices as envisaged under the provisions of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, and money laundering as delineated in the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010. It asked the trial court to try the suspects and punish them under the law.

Must Read

FIA withdraws appeal in Sanam Javed acquittal case

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has retracted its appeal against the duty magistrate’s decision to acquit Sanam Javed. The appeal was heard by Judge...