No evidence of corruption found against PM Shehbaz, CM Hamza: Special Court

LAHORE – The Lahore Special Court on Monday issued written order to confirm the pre-arrest bails of PM Shehbaz Sharif and Punjab CM Hamza Shehbaz in the money laundering case. The court noted that ” no evidence of corruption, misuse of authority, and bribery ” was found on record against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz in Rs16 billion money laundering case filed by the Federal Investigation Agency.

The court said the FIA wanted to arrest PM Shehbaz and CM Hamza after they secured bails in the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) cases, showing that the FIA had “malafide” intentions. The pre-arrest bails were confirmed by the court last week.

“Allegation about gratification, corrupt practice, abuse of official authority, kickbacks, and commission requires further probe during the trial as at this stage cogent evidence is not available,” the order read.

The order said that the investigation office (IO), to date, had not mentioned in his diary that the petitioners were required to be in custody for further investigation. The investigation of the case was completed and the charge sheet has also been submitted, therefore, the arrests are not required, the special court said, explaining its decision to grant the petitioners bail.

The order mentioned that the statements of the 64 people recorded in the case — who had deposited the amounts — relate to Rs60.7 million and not Rs16 billion — as claimed by the FIA.

It added that in the statements of the 64 depositors, none mentioned the names of the prime minister and the chief minister. “Moreover, said statements do not spell out any bribery, kickbacks, or commission, etc.”

The order said that the FIA started investigating Hamza and PM Shehbaz when they were already in the NAB’s custody. It noted that they were interrogated twice — on December 18, 2022, and January 8, 2021.

Money laundering case

Following this, the FIA did not interrogate them for the next five months. Once they were released from NAB’s custody, the court said FIA asked them to appear before it.

“This shows that the prosecution wanted to arrest them again after their release, which shows its mal intent,” the special court’s order said.

The court added that although Hamza Shehbaz was the CEO of the Ramazan Sugar Mills, the prosecution was not able to prove that the accounts — used to launder money — were opened on his orders.

Initially, the FIA claimed that Hamza was involved in corruption worth Rs25 billion, but later, in the charge sheet, it said that he was involved in corruption worth Rs16 billion, the court mentioned.

In December 2021, the FIA had submitted a challan against Shehbaz and Hamza to the special court for their alleged involvement in laundering Rs16 billion in a sugar scam.

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