The Federal Investigation Agency has decided not to prosecute Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz in the Rs16 billion money laundering case. The decision comes three days before a special Lahore court was set to indict them, reported Aaj News.
Special judge Aijaz Hassan Awan issued a written order on the application of the FIA’s prosecution team. The court order stated that the prosecutor general had submitted the request following the April 11 hearing of the case.
The FIA application stated that its director general, through the investigating officer, instructed Special Prosecutor Sikandar Saleem not to appear in court as the accused in the case were going to be elected the prime minister and chief minister of Punjab.
The judge has made the FIA’s application a part of the case record.
Earlier this week, FIA former director Mohammad Rizwan who probed the money laundering charges against PM Shehbaz and CM Hamza died of a heart attack.
In December 2021, the FIA submitted a challan in a banking court against the then opposition leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman citing them as the main suspects in a Rs16 billion money laundering case.
“The investigation team has found 28 benami accounts which were operated under Shehbaz and his house hold’s names — while the opposition leader was chief minister and Hamza was member of National Assembly — from 2008 to 2018,” read the challan.
The FIA submitted the challan, comprising seven volumes and at least 4,000 pages, in the banking court in which 17 accused have been held responsible for the crime.
Cases were registered against 14 people under sections 5(2) and 5(3) (criminal misconduct) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, read with 3/4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, reported Dawn.
“Shehbaz was directly involved in $5 million money laundering by using 28 accounts through which transactions worth Rs16 billion performed,” read the challan.
The agency in its report also said that one Sadiqa Syed helped Shehbaz in laundering money with the help of Ishaq Dar, who was then finance minister.
“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 three other co-accused of the Sharif group also actively facilitated the money laundering,” the agency said.