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HomeNationalRs16bn money laundering case: Shehbaz, Hamza appear before Special Court today

Rs16bn money laundering case: Shehbaz, Hamza appear before Special Court today

FIA likely to submit supplementary challan in the court

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz are due before the Special Court Central-I today (Saturday) in the Rs 16 billion money laundering case.

Sources said that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has readied a supplementary challan [investigation report] and might submit it before the court today. During the last hearing of the case, the counsel of Shehbaz Sharif had informed the court about the flaws and contradictions in the investigation report. The counsel said that FIA had mentioned Rs 25 billion corruption in the FIR, and in challan, they said it was Rs 16billion corruption.

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The judge had also made observations about the addresses given in the report about the arrest of Suleman Shehbaz, the son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and other accused in the case. The judge had observed that FIA had mentioned D-41, Model Town as the address of Suleman on one side and said that he was living abroad on the other.

On it, FIA Special Prosecutor Farooq Bajwa had submitted that there were no such addresses and the accused was not found there. He had said it might be the fault of the person who wrote the report and perhaps he had wanted to say that the suspect was not present there at the given addresses. The judge remarked, “The routine details about Suleman Shehbaz and other suspect Tahir Naqvi were also missing,” with directives to the FIA’s team to address the flaws and contradictions in its report and directed it to submit a fresh challan.

The judge had observed that Ghulam Shabbir, another accused, had passed away and asked the FIA to inform the court about the scope of investigation involving Shabbir. On it, the prosecutor said the suspect’s death certificate was a year old and the inquiry had begun before that. The prosecution sought time to submit details and filed a fresh report. It said they would issue fresh notices to the suspects in the case.

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The counsel of Shehbaz Sharif had concluded his arguments on the last date of hearing. He contended that FIA mentioned Maqsood Chaprasi and accused him of making a huge transaction of over three billion rupees which, according to the record, was only Rs5 million during a long period of ten years. The counsel said that any other account except for the salary account of Maqsood Chaprasi was not opened on the letter pad of Ramzan Sugar Mills-owned by the Sharif family. He pointed out that 90 per cent transactions through the account of Maqsood Chaprasi were not cash transactions rather these were transfer entries.

“Not even a single account of Maqsood Chaprasi was used to transfer money to Shehbaz Sharif,” the lawyer argued, contending that by every aspect, the case did not have any connection with Shehbaz Sharif. He submitted that the investigation officer made this case sitting in a room. He asked the court to set his clients free as they were not involved in corruption as the case against them was politically motivated.

The accused’s counsel said, “The FIA could not establish Shehbaz’s connection with benami accounts even in a ten years period,”. After hearing his arguments, the court had extended the bail of Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza till June 4 (today). The indictment of Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz and others has been pending for the last four months and both father and son had been on bail for the last 11 months.

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