FIA wants to arrest PM Shehbaz Sharif and CM Hamza Shahbaz in money laundering case, Court told

LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) notified a special court in Lahore on Saturday that it intended to arrest Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz, in connection with the Rs16 billion money laundering case.

“As stated in the challan, we do demand their arrest for further investigation,” said the FIA prosecutor in response to a special central court judge’s question on whether the agency requires the arrests of the defendants in the money laundering case.

At this point, the premier and chief minister were in the courtroom.

As the hearing began, Pakistan Muslims League-Nawaz (PMLN) advocate Amjad Pervez told the court that the lawsuit was politically motivated, with party officials accused in a fabricated case.

According to legal tradition, the accused could not be prosecuted for comparable charges in two distinct courts, since another money laundering case was brought by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The lawyer further said that since the challan had already been issued, the FIA could not request the arrests of the prime minister and chief minister.

Pervez further said that a suspect, ‘Mushtaq,’ was never called as a witness nor legally charged in the case, despite the fact that the FIA claimed he had been probed.

“The FIA investigated the offenders while they were in prison.” “When the accused were opposition figures, the previous government deployed all of the state’s apparatus against them,” Pervez said.

Meanwhile, the PM and CM exited the courtroom with the court’s permission.

Prior hearing

On May 28, the central judge of a Lahore special court chastised the FIA prosecutor for submitting “incomplete” arrest warrants in the money laundering case against Suleman Shehbaz, the son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

“Who wrote the arrest warrants?” “The name of Suleman’s father has not been given here,” observed Judge Ijaz Awan.

Suleman was also declared a proclaimed criminal in the case by the court.

Premier Shehbaz, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz, and other convicts in the Rs16 bn money laundering case were present in court.

During prior sessions, Judge Ijaz had launched processes to declare three accused, including Suleman, proclaimed criminals at the request of the FIA.

The court also inquired about the status of Suleman’s arrest warrants throughout the session.

The court also told the FIA prosecutor, Farooq Bajwa, that the agency’s report on the arrest of the premier’s son and the other two suspects was riddled with flaws.

The court said that the report shows that D-41 Model Town does not exist as an address, but also that the accused is not in the country.

The FIA prosecutor informed the court that the address existed, but the suspect could not be located there.

In the money laundering case, the court was unable to indict Shehbaz and Hamza.

The court noted that the report had also omitted other regular data regarding Suleman and another accused.

“The FIA will issue new arrest warrants and submit a new report,” the prosecutor added, conceding that the report had gaps.

Arguments

On May 21, the Special Court Central judge granted the FIA’s request to first initiate proceedings to declare three co-suspects — Suleman Shehbaz, Maqsood, and Tahir Naqvi — as proclaimed offenders in the Rs16 billion money laundering case against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz.

Advocate Amjad Pervez for the defendants contended that the court had not designated them proclaimed criminals. “Only those individuals who have been deemed proclaimed criminals were included in a previous challan presented to the court,” he noted. The court then inquired as to why the prosecution had been quiet on the subject for the previous four months.

The prosecutor said that since he represents the prosecution, the court had been asked to begin proceedings against the three accused.

The accused’s attorney, Amjad Pervez, drew the court’s attention to a specific case’s circumstances and the FIA’s weakness, arguing that there was a delay in the registration of the FIR filed against his clients.

He told the court that a Rs4 billion transaction created with the sugar trade had not been included in the case record.

He further said that accused Mushtaq’s remark was not included into the record.

The lawyer said that Rs4 billion was listed in the FIR, but the ledgers for this sum were not made part of the court record.

There had been no collection of information on the transactions of those accounts named by the FIA in the FIR. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took the rostrum while the lawyer was pouring light on some issues.

“I’d like to say something if the court permits it,” the Prime Minister asked the judge.

With the court’s consent, the premier testified that the PTI administration had made every attempt to build corruption and money laundering allegations against him.

The court issued arrest warrants for the three accused, kicking up steps to have them declared proclaimed criminals.

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