Lahore court to indict Shehbaz Sharif in money laundering case on May 14

Lahore, April 27 (IANS) A special court in Lahore said on Wednesday that charges against Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and others in the Rs 16 billion money laundering case will be framed on May 14, and asked them to ensure their presence in the next hearing as no further adjournments will be made, media reports said.

“It is made clear that on [the] next date of hearing, charge[s] shall be framed and all the accused shall ensure their personal attendance,” the written order said, Dawn reported.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had booked Shehbaz Sharif and his sons, Hamza and Suleman, in November 2020 under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Anti Money Laundering Act. Suleman Shehbaz is absconding in the UK.

The special court had on January 27 granted pre-arrest bail to Shehbaz and Hamza in the case.

During Wednesday’s hearing, presiding judge of the special court, Ijaz Hassan Awan, remarked that the accused could not be indicted due to the absence of the prime minister, who had requested an exemption from appearing in court due to a meeting of the federal cabinet that was scheduled for Wednesday, Dawn reported.

The court approved Shehbaz Sharif’s request, but ruled out the possibility of further adjournments in the case. The court also summoned all the suspects to be present in person on May 14.

The FIA had in December 2021 submitted the challan against PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza to a special court for their alleged involvement in laundering an amount of Rs 16 billion in the sugar scam case.

“The investigation team has detected 28 benami accounts of the Shehbaz Sharif family through which money laundering of Rs 16.3 billion was committed during 2008-18. The FIA examined the money trail of 17,000 credit transactions,” according to an FIA report submitted to the court, Dawn reported.

The amount was kept in “hidden accounts” and given to Shehbaz Sharif in a personal capacity, the report added.

This amount (Rs 16 billion) has nothing to do with the sugar business (of the Shehbaz Sharif family). The money received from the accounts of low-wage employees by Shehbaz Sharif was transferred outside Pakistan via hundi/hawala networks, ultimately destined for the beneficial use of his family members, the FIA had alleged.