Money-laundering: LHC dismisses Shehbaz plea against FIA probe

Friday, Jan 14, 2022

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Thursday dismissed a petition, filed by Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, and his son Hamza Shehbaz, challenging the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) probe into money-laundering charges against them, after being withdrawn.

The division bench, headed by LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, heard the petition.

The petitioners’ counsel, Advocate Amjad Pervaiz, argued before the bench that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed a reference against the petitioners on charges of money laundering during the period from 2008 to 2018. He submitted that the FIA also registered a case against the petitioners on Nov 14, 2020, on the charges of possessing ‘benamidar’ [without name] accounts during the period of 2008 to 2018. [Benamidar means a person or a fictitious person in whose name a benami property or some amount is transferred or held]

He submitted that two different agencies were investigating the same charges, which was not permissible in the law.

However, the chief justice remarked that the petitioners did not raise any objection before the trial court; then how the high court could end the proceedings.

He remarked that the case was registered in 2020 and after a delay of two years, the petitioners had approached the court.

“It is no longer an issue of abolishing the FIR; rather it is a case of ending trial court proceedings,” he added.

The chief justice observed that only the FIA proceedings were challenged through the petition, but how the court could pass any direction without reviewing the NAB matters.

The chief justice observed that no comparison had been given in the petition about NAB and FIA cases.

He directed the counsel to submit a comparison or file a new petition.

At this, the counsel sought permission to withdraw the petition.

Subsequently, the bench dismissed the petition as withdrawn.

The petitioners had questioned the FIA jurisdiction to register the impugned FIR as the agency did not have the jurisdiction to proceed in such matters.

They further submitted that the FIA also failed to produce any evidence of any proceeds of crime, which was a mandatory condition to allege an offence under the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010.