| Accountability Court also adjourns money-laundering case against Shehbaz family

Opposition will announce no-confidence motion details at right time: Shehbaz


LAHORE   -  A Special Court in Lahore Friday deferred the indictment of Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shehbaz and others in cases related to money-laundering and sugar scam.

Special Judge Central Ejaz Hussain Awan conducted the case proceedings, wherein Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz and other accused appeared and got their attendance marked.

A counsel for Shehbaz and Hamza submitted that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) authorities provided copies of the challan at a previous hearing. He submitted that the copies were not readable.

He pleaded with the court to direct the FIA officials for provision of readable copies. An FIA prosecutor objected to the plea, saying that tactics were being used to get the indictment proceedings delayed.

However, the court ordered the FIA to provide readable copies of the challan.

At this stage, a counsel for another accused, Usman, submitted that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter, while submitting an application for the purpose. He pleaded with the court to delay the indictment proceedings till the decision on the application.

Subsequently, the court sought arguments from parties on the jurisdiction issues and adjourned further proceedings till Feb 28. Besides extending interim bail of Shehbaz and Hamza, the court directed all accused to ensure their presence on the next date of hearing.

The court had fixed Feb 18 for indictment of all accused after distribution of challan copies at the last hearing. The case had been transferred from the special court for banking offences to the special court (Central-I) after the question of the courts’ jurisdiction was decided on Jan 14.

The FIA had filed a challan against Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz and others in money laundering and sugar scam. The FIA nominated Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz as main accused, besides ‘benamidars’ and others. Shehbaz Sharif and his sons – Hamza and Suleman – were booked by the FIA in November 2020 under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 of PPC and 5(2) and 5(3) of Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of Anti Money Laundering Act. Suleman is absconding and residing in the UK.

Court adjourns money-laundering case against Shehbaz family

Also, the Lahore Accountability Court on Friday adjourned the hearing of an assets beyond means and money-laundering case against Shehbaz Sharif family and others till  Feb 25.

Accountability Court Judge Naseem Ahmad Virk conducted the case proceedings, wherein Opposition leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz appeared and got their attendance marked.

The court recorded statements of two prosecution witnesses, Farwa Hussain and Kashif Islam during the proceedings. Shehbaz Sharif’s counsel Advocate Amjad Pervaiz also cross-examined two prosecution witnesses -Moeen Rajput and Saboji Israr.

The court, on completion of the cross-examination, adjourned hearing till Feb 25 and summoned more witnesses on the next date of hearing. The National Accountability Bureau had alleged that the Shehbaz Sharif family committed massive money-laundering of Rs 7 billion. Yasir Mushtaq, Mushtaq Ahmad, Shahid Rafique and Aftab had become approvers in the case. The Lahore High Court had granted bail to Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz in the case.

Meanwhile, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said that the Opposition would announce the details of the no-confidence motion when the time comes. The Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly talked about the no-confidence motion after appearing before an accountability court in a money laundering case.

When asked about why the National Assembly session was delayed, Shehbaz claimed that the session of the lower house was delayed as the government was hoping he would be indicted on February 18 (today).

The PML-N leader claimed that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had requested that the hearing date be set between February 17-19 so he could make an excuse about the NA session before the court.

“When the court rejected the FIA’s request they changed the date of the Assembly session,” claimed Shehbaz Sharif. The PML-N leader further said that he stayed in jail for seven months, and during this time, FIA officials visited him twice. “The documents which have been presented in the court were also submitted to UK’s most prestigious National Crime Agency (NCA),” he stated.

Shehbaz further added that these documents have been compiled by FIA, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and Asset Recovery Unit (ARU), lamenting that he stayed in exile for four years. “If I had ill-gotten money then why would I come back to Pakistan,” he said, adding that when he had returned he was sent back from the next flight.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) chief Shehbaz Sharif has already formed a committee to move a no-confidence motion against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government in Punjab province.