Shehbaz, Hamza acquitted in money laundering case

F.P. Report

LAHORE: The central court of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Lahore Wednesday acquitted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz in the money laundering case.

The reserved verdict in the case was read by Justice Ijaz Hasan Awan.

While accepting the acquittal pleas of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz, the court said there is insufficient evidence in the FIA challan and prosecuting the accused will be a waste of time.

The court said the prosecutors failed to prove link of Benami bank accounts to Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz.

Earlier, defence lawyer Amjad Parvez said the FIA challan is based on fairytale stories and there is no evidence to prove the allegations.

FIA prosecutor Farooq Bajwa opposed the acquittal plea of Shebaz and Hamza.

In December 2021, the FIA had submitted the challan against Shehbaz and Hamza before the special court for their alleged involvement in laundering an amount of Rs16 billion in the sugar scam case.

According to the FIA report submitted to the court, 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.”

The report added that the amount was kept in “hidden accounts” and given to Shehbaz in a personal capacity.

This amount (Rs16 billion) has nothing to do with the sugar business (of the Shehbaz family), it claimed.

The money received from the accounts of low-wage employees by Shehbaz was transferred outside Pakistan via hundi/hawala networks, ultimately destined for the beneficial use of his family members, the FIA had alleged.

“Eleven low-paid employees of the Sharif group who ‘held and possessed’ the laundered proceeds on behalf of the principal accused, are found guilty of facilitating money laundering,” the agency had said.

“The three other co-accused of the Sharif group also actively facilitated the money laundering,” it had added.