From Abid Usman
LAHORE: An accountability court in Lahore on Wednesday summoned the lawyers in the next hearing for cross-examination of two prosecution witnesses in money laundering case against Shehbaz Sharif’s family.
The accountability court’s judge Jawadul Hassan conducted the hearing of the money laundering case against Shehbaz Sharif’s family yesterday. Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz have been produced before the court.
However, the Sharif family lawyer Amjad Pervaiz has not appeared in the hearing due to ailment.
During the hearing, a witness, Bilal Zameer, who is an officer of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), recorded his testimony. Bilal Zameer told the court that he has submitted reports related to Hamza Shehbaz to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), besides the submission of certified documents of the wealth tax statement.
Shehbaz Sharif complained about non-provision of his reports by the medical board. To this, the judge remarked that the court will issue directives in this regards. The PML-N president continued that they could not prove any corruption. He said that a fake story had been published against him in London in 2019 regarding embezzlement in £500 million grant provided to the Punjab government for education and health. He added that the British government had rejected the false story, whereas, the funds were properly utilised in all projects.
Later, the accountability summoned witnesses, Bilal Zameer and Muhammad Sharif, in the next hearing besides directing the lawyers to initiate cross-examination. The hearing was adjourned till January 26. The reference mainly accuses Shehbaz of being beneficiary of assets held in the name of his family members and benamidars who had no sources to acquire such assets.
It says 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. A total of 20 people had been nominated in the reference, including four approvers Yasir Mushtaq, Muhammad Mushtaq, Shahid Rafiq and Aftab Mahmood.
The main suspects are Shehbaz’s wife Nusrat, his sons Hamza (leader of opposition in Punjab) and Suleman (absconder), and his daughters Rabia Imran and Javeria Ali.
According to NAB, Shehbaz accumulated assets worth Rs7,328mn — which are disproportionate to his known sources of income — “in connivance with his co-accused family members, benamidars, front persons and close associates […] developed an organised system of money laundering”.
The accountability watchdog further said that the accused in the case had “created fake/fictitious sources of income” in order to “justify the assets” which are beyond their known sources of income.
Shehbaz was arrested on Oct 5, 2018, in other cases — Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme. He was in NAB’s custody when the inquiry into assets was authorised on Oct 23, according to Shehbaz’s bail petition.