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Shehbaz Sharif declared ‘innocent’ in money laundering case

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza have been declared innocent in the money laundering case after the anti-graft body – National Accountability Bureau (NAB), concluded a reinvestigation. 

The supplementary report stated that Sharif, his wife Nusrat Shehbaz, his son Hamza Shehbaz, and other accused were found to have no involvement in the money laundering scheme. It added that corruption allegations could not be proved or substantiated under the NAB Amendment Act.

The court, during the hearing, also approved Hamza’s petition wherein he sought an exemption from attendance on medical grounds. However, further proceedings have been adjourned till May 24, while interim bails of Haroon Yousaf Aziz and Syed Muhammad Tahir Naqvi – the other co-accused, have been extended till then. 

What is the money laundering case?

71-year-old Shehbaz, and his sons Hamza, 47, and Suleman, 40, were booked in November 2020 by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Anti-Money Laundering Act.

According to the FIA report submitted in the court, the probe team “detected 28 benami accounts of the Shehbaz 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.”

Benami transactions are those transactions that are made by a person without using their name or by using the name of another. The amount was kept in hidden accounts and allegedly given to Shehbaz in a personal capacity, the probe found initially.

However, Shehbaz kept vouching for his innocence throughout the court proceedings, saying he even used to give up his salary. 

“I never committed a single penny of corruption nor received any kickbacks in any project during my tenure as the chief minister of Punjab. During my tenure, I would give up my salary and other perks amounting to Rs 100 million,” said Shehbaz during one of the hearings. 

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