A report published by British newspaper The Mail on Sunday accuses Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) president and former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and his family of allegedly embezzling money from aid given by Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) and laundering it in the United Kingdom.
The report says DFID poured more than £500 million of UK taxpayers’ money into Punjab in the form of aid during Shehbaz’s tenure as chief minister.
“Yet, say investigators, all the time that DFID was heaping him and his government with praise and taxpayers’ cash, Shahbaz and his family were embezzling tens of millions of pounds of public money and laundering it in Britain,” writes reporter David Rose.
“They are convinced that some of the allegedly stolen money came from DFID-funded aid projects.”
The report says Shehbaz’s son Suleman has denied the allegations against him and his family, “saying they were the product of a ‘political witch-hunt’ ordered by Pakistan’s new prime minister, the former cricketer Imran Khan.”
The news report states that The Mail on Sunday was last week given “exclusive access to some of the results of a high-level probe ordered by Khan” and also allowed to “interview key witnesses held on remand in jail, including a UK citizen Aftab Mehmood.”
Mehmood, according to the report, claims “he laundered millions on behalf of Shahbaz’s family from a nondescript office in Birmingham”.
The news story cites a confidential investigation report as the source of information regarding Shehbaz’s finances. “The [Shehbaz] family was worth just £150,000 in 2003 but by 2018 their total assets had grown to about £200 million. Among other properties, Shahbaz owns a 53,000 sq ft palace in Lahore, which has its own large security force.”
“According to the [investigation] report, the family’s legitimate income sources could not account for their riches. The money, the report says, was channelled from abroad – via several elaborate money-laundering schemes, in which Britain played a central role,” says the news report.
“The [investigation] report claims laundered payments were made to Shahbaz’s children, his wife and his son-in-law Ali Imran. But it adds that Shahbaz ‘was the principal beneficiary of this money-laundering enterprise, by way of spending, acquisition of properties and their expansion into palatial houses where he lived,’” adds The Mail on Sunday article.
The news story goes on to cite more information from the Pakistani investigation report to explain how Shehbaz and his family allegedly laundered money in the UK.
The report also includes a denial from Shehbaz’s son, Suleman. “This is a witch-hunt against my family. It is similar to what happened at Guantanamo Bay, and under apartheid in South Africa. There is a clique around Imran Khan which is trying to shut out the opposition and they are picking out my family members in order to harass them.”