PML-N chief and son indicted in graft case
An accountability court Tuesday indicted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on charges he misused his authority while he was the chief minister of Punjab province.
Shehbaz’s son Hamza, the Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly, was also indicted by the court in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.
Both Shehbaz and Hamza pleaded not guilty to the charges framed against them, which involve the misuse of their authority and the illegal use of public funds.
During the brief hearing, Judge Najamul Hassan asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor what exactly the Ramzan Sugar Mills case is, to which special prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua replied that public funds were used for a nullah for the mills, of which Hamza is a director.
According to the accountability watchdog, the funds for the nullah - which come to about Rs 20 crores - had been released by then Punjab chief minister Shehbaz.
Shehbaz, 63, served as the chief minister of the politically crucial Punjab province from 2013 to 2018. He became PML-N president after his elder brother Nawaz Sharif was barred from holding the top party position and public posts.
“God knows, in last 10 years being the chief minister of Punjab, a province of over 100 million people, I have saved the country billions of rupees. I had nothing to do with this bridge, no money was wrongfully used,” Shehbaz told the court.
The court subsequently indicted both, father and son, before moving onto hearing the Ashiyana Housing scam case. Judge Hassan adjourned the hearing till April 23.
Shehbaz has already been indicted along with nine others in the Ashiana Housing scam case. He was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau in the probe on October 5, 2018 and released on bail on February 14.
On Monday, Hamza was granted pre-arrest bail till April 17 by the Lahore High Court, which also restrained NAB from arresting him in cases pertaining to ownership of assets beyond means, until further notice.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Monday arrested a “key frontman” of Hamza and his brother Salman who allegedly laundered over Rs 50 crore abroad at their behest.
Referring to the arrest of Mohammad Mushtaq, the NAB said it believed that the arrest would strengthen its case against both sons of PML-N president Shehbaz.
According to the NAB, it had the record of the money laundering transactions of over Rs 50 crore sent by Mushtaq to the accounts of Salman abroad.
Mushtaq was leaving for Dubai. But during immigration at the Lahore airport Monday, his name appeared on the no-fly list.
“Key suspect Mohammad Mushtaq aided and connived with the Shehbaz Sharif family in money laundering. He transferred over Rs 50 crore to Salman Shahbaz’s accounts abroad,” NAB said in a statement.
The NAB also detected 28 bank accounts of the Shehbaz family. Salman had gone to London last year after his lone appearance before NAB in connection with the assets beyond means investigation but did not return. Shehbaz’s son-in-law Imran Ali Yousuf, who is wanted in the Saaf Pani Company scam, is also in the UK.