Money-laundering case: Shehbaz, Hamza appear in court; bail extended till June 4

Numan Wahab
Sunday, May 29, 2022

LAHORE: A special court on Saturday extended pre-arrest bails of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz till June 4 in the Rs16 billion money-laundering case.

The father-son duo, along with other accused, appeared before the court amid tight security.

As the hearing commenced, the court asked about the arrest warrants of the accused, issued on previous hearing.

The judge asked who prepared the arrest warrants, as the name of Suleman's father had not been mentioned on the arrest warrants.

"Can someone please inform the court that who is Suleman, whose arrest warrants had been issued," the judge asked.

The judge also pointed out to the FIA prosecutor Farooq Bajwa that the report prepared by the FIA regarding the arrest of Shehbaz’s son and the other two suspects had a lot of contradictions.

The judge, while reading the compliance report, said, on the one side, the report says that D-41 Model Town is an address which does not exist while, on the other hand, it says the suspect Suleman Shehbaz was abroad. The FIA prosecutor told the court that the address exists there, but the suspect could not be found there.

The judge remarked that the report also failed to mention other routine details on Suleman and another suspect.

The judge observed that there are lacunas in the report prepared by the FIA. The FIA prosecutor told the court that the FIA would again issue the arrest warrants and submit a fresh report.

The counsel for Shehbaz Sharif argued that there were no concrete evidence which could prove the allegations against his client, adding that the case was purely a tale. The defence even did not know whether the prosecution witness statements in the case were true, he added.

The witnesses do not say these accounts belonged to Shehbaz Sharif. Mushtaq Cheeni also opened accounts, but no FIR was registered against him, he argued. The proceedings are still in progress.

Counsel Amjad Pervaiz implored the court that it did not mention anywhere in that form, used for opening the bank account, that the account belonged to Shehbaz Sharif. He contended that nothing about the Chaudhry Sugar Mills, AL-Arabia Ramzan Sugar Mill had been mentioned in the challan of the case. Only tales had been written in the challan.

The counsel sated that "if we look at the statement of Maqsood 'Chaprasi', we find that he wrote the word "Self" on the cheques. The court then was served opening account forms of cashier Ramzan. The counsel asked if there was Shehbaz Sharif's nexus, why he had not been arrested from the Kot Lakhpat jail when the FIA investigated him.

When his client obtained bail, the FIA constituted the case against him. And when the budget's time came nearer, the FIA again issued notices. He implored the court that there was an allegation against Muhammad Maqsood of Rs3.4 billion transactions. He contended that there was no account on the letter pad of Ramzan Sugar Mill except for salary account. Shehbaz Sharif had not received even a single penny from Maqsood’s account, the 90 per cent transaction of Maqsood were not of cash but transfer entries. A nexus was established but the reality was that Shehbaz Sharif had nothing to do with the allegations.

Meanwhile, PM Shehbaz Sharif sought permission to leave the court, which was granted.