Friday, April 19, 2024

Pak PM Shehbaz & son get pre-arrest bail in money-laundering case as probe agency takes U-turn

Shehbaz Hamza

Lahore, June 11: A Pakistani court on Saturday granted pre-arrest bail to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son and Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz in a multi-billion rupees money laundering case, a major relief to the father-son duo after the Federal Investigation Agency took a U-turn and told the judge that their arrest was not required.
Interestingly, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had submitted an interim investigation report against the premier and other suspects in the Rs 14 billion (USD 75 million) money laundering case last week and sought their arrest, arguing that “their custody is needed for further probe in the case as they have not joined the investigation and cooperated with investigators.”
“On Saturday, taking completely an opposite stance, the FIA prosecutor told the court that the agency does not require the arrest of the father and son in the investigation,” a court official told PTI.
The court then confirmed the pre-arrest bail to the premier, his son and other suspects in the Rs 14 billion money laundering case against them.
The court also directed them to submit bail bonds worth Rs 1 million each within seven days.
Shehbaz and Hamza appeared before the Special Court (Central-I) of the FIA amid high security in Lahore.
Shehbaz said that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had already conducted an investigation into the charges the FIA is now probing.
Nothing was proved against me and my sons in the NAB case as it was reprimanded by the Supreme Court for failing to present any evidence,” he said, adding that the FIA had approached him twice when he was in NAB’s custody.
“All my cases in NAB had been decided on merit in which I was exonerated. Honour is also a man’s asset. Had a corruption of a penny proved against me, I would have quit politics,” Shehbaz said.
When Judge Ijaz Hassan Awan asked the Prime Minister whether he had shares in the sugar mills of his sons, Shehbaz replied in the negative.
“I have nothing to do with the sugar business. The facts FIA has presented are incorrect,” he said.
Shehbaz also got emotional in the court and said: “The day of judgement may arrive but FIA will not be able to prove even a rupee worth of corruption against me”.
Prime Minister Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman were booked by the FIA in November 2020 under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Anti Money Laundering Act.
Suleman is absconding in the UK as the court has issued an arrest warrant against him.
The FIA investigation has said that it has detected 28 benami accounts, allegedly of the Shehbaz family, through which an amount of 14 billion Pakistani Rupees was laundered from 2008 to 2018.
The FIA examined the money trail of 17,000 credit transactions.
The amount was kept in hidden accounts and given to Shehbaz in his personal capacity, according to the charges. (PTI)