Court acquits Suleman, others in money-laundering case

LAHORE (APP): A special court (central) on Monday acquitted Suleman Shehbaz and others in a Rs 16 billion money-laundering case, registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Special Court Judge Bakht Fakhr Behzad announced the verdict while allowing acquittal applications of Suleman Shehbaz and others.
Earlier, the FIA submitted replies to 27 questions, asked by the court, during the proceedings.
To a court query, the FIA prosecutor submitted that a joint investigation team, headed by Dr Rizwan, had conducted an inquiry into the money-laundering charges. The court asked whether the FIA recorded statements of any witnesses during the probe. The investigation officer kept silence and did not reply.
The court questioned what action had been taken against those who kept changing their stance during the inquiry and investigation. The investigation officer responded that no action had been taken against them.
The court asked whether there was any evidence in seven volumes of the FIA, submitted in the court earlier, and on what basis or of evidence, a challan was submitted in the court.
To a question about former FIA DG Sanaullah Abbasi’s absence from the court, the FIA prosecutor replied that a letter was written to him, but he did not appear.
Suleman’s counsel submitted that former FIA DG Bashir Memon had admitted that he also faced pressure for making the case.
The FIA prosecutor submitted that there was no direct evidence of money laundering against Suleman Shehbaz. The court then questioned whether there was any indirect evidence against the accused.
To which, the investigation officer submitted that the action was started in the light of the Sugar Inquiry Commission report.
To a court question about action taken against other sugar mills, the investigation officer submitted that he was not aware of it, as their cases were not investigated by him. He submitted that the agency checked the details of accounts of Suleman Shehbaz but no evidence emerged. The court questioned then why the case was made against Suleman Shehbaz.
The investigation officer submitted that money was deposited in the accounts of Suleman and the same was withdrawn in cash. The court expressed anger at the investigation officer over failure to satisfy it, and questioned whether depositing and withdrawing money was a crime.
Subsequently, the court acquitted all the accused, while allowing their acquittal applications. In November 2020, the FIA had registered a money-laundering case against Hamza Shehbaz, Suleman Shehbaz, and others. Suelman Shehbaz and other accused had withdrawn their bail petitions after the agency gave clean chit to them in a challan, filed on June 21, 2023.