LAHORE   -   An accountability court yesterday remanded Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz in custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) till June 26 in Ramzan Sugar Mills and assets-beyond-means cases.

The NAB authorities produced the PML-N central leader, who was arrested from the premises of Lahore High Court when his bail petitions were rejected by an LHC division bench last Tuesday, before Special Judge Accountability Court Syed Jawadul Hassan.

At the outset of the proceedings, NAB Prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua told the court that the accused had been arrested from the Lahore High Court (LHC) premises on June 11. In response to a court query, the NAB official submitted that reasons of arrest had been given to him.

As per the National Accountability Ordinance, the NAB is required to inform the accused of the grounds and substance on the basis of which he has been arrested and to produce him before an accountability court within a period of 24 hours of the arrest.

The investigation officer submitted before the court that suspicious transactions were detected in Hamza Shehbaz’s bank accounts whereas his assets increased by many fold during past years. He told the court that Hamza received Rs180 million from abroad but failed to submit details about sources. He added that the accused allegedly caused a loss of over Rs 210 million to the national exchequer in Ramzan Sugar Mills case.

The officer requested the court to grant 15-day physical remand of Hamza Shehbaz for investigation.

The defence counsel opposed NAB’s request for physical remand of his client. He submitted that all record had been provided to the accountability bureau by the accused. Thus, he argued, the physical remand was not required. He pleaded that his client should be sent on judicial remand to jail.

After hearing arguments of both parties, the court earlier reserved the verdict for some time and later remanded Hamza in NAB custody till June 26. The court directed authorities to produce the accused again on expiry of the remand term.

Last Tuesday, a two-member LHC bench consisting of Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Muhammad Waheed Khan had dismissed his bail petitions after his counsel withdrew the same.

The NAB has accused that assets of Shehbaz family had increased manifold during past years and these assets were beyond known sources of income. Not only Hamza but other family members had also ‘laundered money’, as per the NAB.

Acoording to NAB, Hamza failed to provide details of his sources of income transferred from abroad to justify assets of Rs380 million.

NAB official said Hamza had total assets of Rs18 million in year 2003 which increased to Rs411.630 million in year 2017. They added the accused claimed foreign remittances of Rs181 million as sources of funds for the said increase in assets.

The investigation as the NAB claimed revealed that his foreign remittances were found to be fictitious while the accused set up 12 industrial units and funds received through fictitious foreign remittances were Rs244 million.