Shahbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz (right). File
Leader of opposition in the National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif, his son Hamza, who is leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, and others were indicted in a money laundering case by an accountability court in Lahore on Wednesday.
The court has asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to present their evidence at the next hearing. The accused, however, pleaded not guilty.
On the occasion, Shahbaz said he and his family were being victimised for political reasons. "My political opponents are conspiring against me, and that is why fake cases have been registered against me.”
He said as the chief minister of Punjab he saved Rs80 billion in the Orange Line Project of Lahore. "I will present all the proofs of my innocence in the court,” he said, dismissing the National Accountability Bureau (NAVB) cases as "baseless” and politically-motivated.
Shahbaz is accused of accumulating assets worth Rs7,328 million in connivance with his co-accused family members, benamidars, front persons and close associations and for developing an organised system of money laundering.
The NAB nominated a total of 20 individuals in the reference — Shahbaz Sharif’s wife, his sons Hamza and Suleman, and daughters Rabia Imran and Javeria Ali.
The NAB accuses the PML-N president of committing corruption as envisaged under the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and money laundering as outlined in the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010. It claims that the accused "created fake sources of income” to "justify the assets” acquired beyond known sources of income.
On Sept.29, Shahbaz was arrested by the NAB after the Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected his bail in the money laundering case.
Shahbaz was previously arrested on Oct.5, 2018 in another case pertaining to Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana Housing Scheme. He was in the anti-graft watchdog’s custody when the inquiry into money laundering was authorised.
“I cannot blame the entire army for the lawlessness of a few individuals,” he said while addressing via video link to his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) latest power show in Swat Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province on Friday.
Sharif has written to the Pakistan High Commission in London for the renewal of his diplomatic passport. Officials said the request letter from Sharif came just a day before the expiry of his diplomatic passport on Feb.16.
Giving out the verdict, the court told the chairman of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to sell Sharif’s shares. Authorities may proceed with any auction that they do not receive an objection against.
In an interview, he said the Broadsheet had flatly refused the deal offered by a person claiming himself as the nephew of Sharif in 2012 retorting that the Broadsheet did not negotiate with crooks.
He was arrested and legal measures were taken against him, and he was referred to the Public Prosecution.
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