ISLAMABAD   -   The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Thursday denied some media reports about withdrawing a money laundering case against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz by the agency.

FIA in a statement said that only prosecutor of the case had been changed which “is a routine matter.” The version of the FIA came after some media reports said that FIA had decided not to prosecute PM Shehbaz and his son Hamza in Rs 16 billion money laundering cases registered against them during last Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) regime. Some unconfirmed reports suggested that FIA Director General (DG) Tahir Rai, through the investigating officer, told Special Prosecutor Sikander Zulqarnain Saleem not to appear in court to prosecute the specific case. “A fake news is circulating in media regarding withdrawal of the case against political leaders of a party in Lahore,” a spokesperson of FIA said in a statement. He said that the case had not been withdrawn and its proceedings were continuing in the court. “The next date of hearing is fixed for May 14.” FIA said that it may legally proceed against the persons involved in spreading this fake news. The agency explained that in fact, on April 11, the prosecutor of the case submitted his opinion, based on the application, in the court regarding change of the prosecutor “wherein he was instructed not to appear on behalf of prosecution.”

The prosecutor mentioned the investigation officer, and through him the then DG FIA, according to FIA. He was asked for not appearing as prosecutor. “It was not a withdrawal application anyway.” On April 11, Sanaullah Abbasi was the DG FIA. At the time of submission of application, new PM had not yet taken oath, the agency clarified. Tahir Rai was posted as DG FIA on April 22, the spokesperson said adding that this matter pertained to the timing before his arrival in FIA.

“Change of prosecutor is a routine matter,” reads the statement. In the time of previous government too, prosecutor was changed several times in this very case, it added.