Shahbaz Sharif, his son indicted in money laundering case
Lahore: Pakistan’s Opposition leader and PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif and his son Hamza were indicted in a money laundering case by an accountability court here on Wednesday.
The country’s anti-graft body, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), framed the charges against Shahbaz, who is the younger brother of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and Opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza in the accountability court of Judge Jawadul Hasan.
Both the father and son have denied the charges and pleaded for innocence.
Shahbaz told the court that his political opponents, referring Prime Minister Imran Khan, had instituted false cases against him and his family members.
“I had saved only Rupees 81 billion from the Lahore metro train project and in 10 years as chief minister of Punjab I saved trillions of rupees in different development projects. If a single rupee corruption is proved against me even after my death, take me out of the grave and hang me,” he said.
He said the NAB was being used for political engineering against the Opposition.
“NAB has yet to bring forth any evidence against me and my family members,” Shahbaz said and informed the court that he had severe backache, but the jail authorities ignored this and brought him to the court in an armoured car.
“They enjoy giving me pain,” he said.
The court asked the NAB to produce prosecution witnesses in the next hearing on November 26. The NAB had arrested Shahbaz in the last week of September. He is lodged at the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore along with his son.
The NAB said that Shahbaz’s assets between 2008-2018 had grown multifold. It said Shahbaz could not explain to the NAB as to how he was able to buy four apartments in London and had not shared when his business had started and its income.
Shahbaz is a beneficiary of assets held in the name of his family members and benamidars (unknown persons) who had no sources to acquire such assets, it said.
“Shahbaz and his family members committed offences of corruption and corrupt practices as envisaged under the provisions of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and money laundering as delineated in the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010,” the NAB said.
A total of 20 people have been named in the money laundering case. The main suspects are Shahbaz’s wife Nusrat, his sons Hamza and Suleman (absconder), and his daughters Rabia Imran and Javeria Ali.
According to the NAB, Shahbaz accumulated assets worth Rs 7,328 million in connivance with his co-accused family members, benamidars, front persons and close associates and developed an organised system of money laundering.
Shahbaz was arrested a few days after an alliance of 11 Opposition parties was formed to oust the “fake” government of Imran Khan.
Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Nawaz Sharif, had said Shahbaz was arrested only because he stood with his elder brother’s narrative.
Give respect to the ballot, she said, adding that there should be no interference of the Army in politics.
“If there were accountability and justice in this country, it’s not Shehbaz Sharif who would have been arrested but Lt Gen (R) Asim Bajwa and his family that made billions through corruption,” she said.
Nawaz, who has been in London for the last one year for his medical treatment recently launched a tirade against the Pakistan Army and ISI chiefs for ending his government and imposing “puppet” Imran Khan on the nation through a massively rigged 2018 polls.