Suleman acquitted in money laundering case


LAHORE: Suleman Shehbaz, the son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, was acquitted by a special court in Lahore on Monday in a Rs16 billion money laundering case filed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) .

The FIA had accused Suleman and his father and brother, Shehbaz and Hamza, of laundering money through 28 anonymous bank accounts between 2008 and 2018. The case was based on the findings of a sugar inquiry commission that probed the alleged involvement of sugar mills owned by the Sharif family in financial irregularities.

Suleman, who returned to Pakistan in December 2020 after four years of self-exile in London, had filed petitions for his acquittal in both the FIA and NAB cases. He was granted bail by the Islamabad High Court, which restrained both the agencies from arresting him.

The FIA had earlier given a clean chit to Suleman and other accused in the money laundering case, saying that it had no concrete evidence against them. The agency’s lawyer told the court that Suleman was declared an accused based on the form used to open the bank accounts, but there was no proof of any crime or complaint against him.

Suleman’s lawyer, Amjad Pervez, argued that the case was politically motivated and baseless. He said that money laundering was not proved against any of the accused.

Judge Bakht Behzad announced the verdict in favour of Suleman and other accused after hearing the arguments of both sides. He also grilled the FIA’s investigating officer over the probe and asked him under whose pressure the case was filed. He warned that he would send all the FIA officials to jail if they failed to provide any evidence.

Suleman was present in the court along with his counsel at the time of the announcement. He expressed his gratitude to the court for upholding justice and clearing his name. He said that he had faced false allegations for four years and had returned to Pakistan to prove his innocence.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz have already been acquitted from money laundering charges by the Lahore High Court in April 2021. The court had quashed the reference filed by NAB against them, saying that it was based on assumptions and conjectures.

 

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