Shehbaz, Hamza again escape from indictment in money laundering case

Shehbaz, Hamza again escape from indictment in money laundering case

Shehbaz, Hamza again escape from indictment in money laundering case
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LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz once again successfully avoided indictment in Rs16 billion money laundering case before a special court (central-1) as the PM was on a private visit to London.

As the hearing commenced, Amjad Pervez, the counsel for the prime minister submitted an application on behalf of the PM for a one-time exemption from personal appearance.

The counsel told the court that Shehbaz was in London to attend to some important matters. He said the prime minister was also due to visit his medical consultant in London since he was a cancer survivor and a patient of chronic backache.

Advocate Pervez told the court that his client had to reschedule his return because of the sudden death of the UAE president. He said he had to visit the UAE for condolence. The judge allowed the application and extended pre-arrest bail of both accused till May 21.

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Earlier, the counsel resumed his arguments before a special court (Central-I) against the charge-sheet of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in an alleged money laundering case saying the prosecution failed to produce any evidence of crime proceeds.

Advocate Amjad Pervez, the defence counsel, said the FIA made an alleged offence from 2008 to 2013 but registered the FIR in 2020.

He said the agency nominated its own witnesses as accused after they refused to give statements against Shehbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shahbaz and others.

He pointed out that the FIA registered its FIR when Shehbaz and Hamza were already in jail in connection with cases of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). He said Shehbaz was not a shareholder or director of any of the companies of his sons implicated in the case by the FIA.

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He said the FIA registered the FIR of the alleged money laundering at the behest of the previous government after it realised that nothing was going to be proved against Shehbaz and his son in the NAB references. He said the FIA did not summon the accused persons till seven months after the registration of the FIR.

The counsel said not a single witness in his statement revealed that the banking transactions mentioned in the challan were part of any illegal activity. He said hurriedness shown by the FIA in submission of challan in the instant case was never seen in any other case.

As the arguments were in progress, presiding judge Ijaz Hassan Awan adjourned further hearing till May 21. The judge also extended the pre-arrest bail of Shehbaz and Hamza till the next hearing.

However, Chief Minister Hamza appeared before the court and attended the hearing.

Newly appointed Special Prosecutor Farooq Bajwa did not oppose the application of Shehbaz after going through his e-ticket and proof of his appointment with the doctor.

The judge allowed the application of Shehbaz, however, directed him to appear on the next hearing. The prosecutor also sought time for his arguments saying he could not go through the case file.

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The FIA had booked Leader of the House and his sons, Hamza and Suleman, under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 (financial fraud, impersonation and forgery) of the Pakistan Penal Code and sections 5(2) and 5(3) (criminal misconduct) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and read with Section 3/4 of the Anti-Money laundering Act.

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