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No proof of direct transactions into accounts of Shehbaz, Hamza, admits FIA  

No proof of direct transactions into accounts of Shehbaz, Hamza, admits FIA  

No proof of direct transactions into accounts of Shehbaz, Hamza, admits FIA  

Money laundering case: no proof of direct transactions into accounts of Shehbaz, Hamza, admits FIA

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In front of a trial court in Lahore, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) acknowledged on Tuesday that there had been no direct transactions made in the bank accounts of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif or his son, former Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz.

The statement was made after FIA special prosecutor Farooq Bajwa was questioned by a special court (central-I) regarding alleged suspected transactions conducted in the bank accounts listed in the challan. The court was dealing with a money laundering case involving Rs16 billion.

Presiding Judge Ijaz Hassan Awan initially questioned the prosecutor about the number of bank accounts that were held in the name of co-suspect Malik Maqsood Ahmad, a peon at Ramzan Sugar Mills who passed away while evading capture in the United Arab Emirate.

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According to the prosecutor, the challan mentioned eight of Maqsood Ahmad’s bank accounts.

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He said that there was, however, no proof of any direct deposit or withdrawal from Shehbaz and Hamza’s bank accounts. He claimed that Hamza was a stockholder in the sugar mills, but there was no proof that the transactions in the employees’ bank accounts were carried out at his direction.

Shehbaz and Hamza’s attorney, Amjad Pervez, stated that no allegations of corruption or accepting kickbacks had been made against his clients in the challan of the FIA presented during the administration of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, the previous government.

During their tenure, he claimed that the entire inquiry had been conducted.

In front of the court, Advocate Pervez declared, “I will leave the court if the prosecution produces any testimony of its witnesses against Shehbaz or Hamza.”

He said that the bank account holders were unaware of the deposits of money.

However, the prosecutor claimed that the account proprietors confessed that the sugar mills had previously utilised their accounts for business purposes.

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When the prosecutor was asked if he could put this in writing, he said that he was not under any orders to submit a written statement to the court. What the prosecutor said was recorded in the case file, he claimed.

The defence attorney continued to make his case about PM Shehbaz’s requests for acquittal by claiming that his client was not a stakeholder nor a director of the Ramzan Sugar Mills.

The PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi was the target of a similar case that was recently dismissed by the Lahore High Court, the attorney said while displaying a copy of the ruling.

The judge asked the lawyer to continue his arguments and set the next hearing for tomorrow, Wednesday.

Earlier, the judge granted PM Shehbaz a once-only exemption from personal presence after hearing from his attorney that the prime minister was unable to attend court owing to unavoidable official obligations. Hamza, though, showed up in court.

Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman were booked by the FIA in November 2020 for violating sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34, and 109 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, as well as Section 3/4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act. Suleman’s persistent absence from the trial hearings had led to the court declaring him a proclaimed offender.

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