A special court in Lahore on Wednesday acquitted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Hamza Shehbaz, in a Rs. 16 billion money laundering case.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told the court that no direct transaction had been made in the bank accounts of PM Shehbaz and his son from benami accounts [hidden accounts].
Reacting to the verdict, the PM thanked the Almighty for this day in a tweet. “Despite the worst practices, use of state force and holding institutions hostage, we stand successfully before the court, the law and the people,” he wrote.
In the previous hearing, Special Court Judge Ejaz Awan asked about the number of bank accounts owned by the Malik Maqsood — also known as Maqsood Chaprasi.
FIA prosecutor Farooq Bajwa responded that the late Maqsood had eight bank accounts to his name.
The prosecutor further stated that no money was either directly deposited or withdrawn from the accounts of the suspects, including Shehbaz and Hamza.
The judge asked what evidence was there to substantiate that the entire money dealing was being done at Hamza’s behest. In response, FIA’s prosecutor said the agency does not have “any evidence” linking him to money laundering.
FIA had booked Shehbaz and his two sons, Hamza and Suleman, in November 2020 under Sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, read with Section 3/4 of Anti-Money Laundering Act.
The FIA had in December 2021 submitted the challan against Shehbaz and Hamza to a special court for their alleged involvement in laundering an amount of Rs16bn in the sugar scam case.
“The investigation team has detected 28 benami accounts of the Shehbaz family through which money laundering of Rs16.3bn was committed during 2008-18. The FIA examined the money trail of 17,000 credit transactions,” said an FIA report submitted to the court.
The amount was kept in “hidden accounts” and given to Shehbaz in a personal capacity, the report added.