Shehbaz’s family members declared absconders

Suspects did not appear before court despite repeated summonses


Our Correspondent November 26, 2020
LAHORE:

An accountability court in Lahore on Thursday declared the family members of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif absconders in a money laundering and assets beyond means case.

The six accused include PML-N president’s wife Nusrat Shehbaz, son Suleman Shehbaz, daughter Rabia Imran, son-in-law Haroon Yousuf and two other people.

The suspects did not appear before the court despite repeated issuance of summonses, after which the court declared them absconders.

During the proceedings, judge Jawadul Hassan remarked that the accused were summoned through a proclamation, however, 30 days had passed and they had still not appeared before the court.

Meanwhile, Shehbaz and his son Hamza were produced before the court by police.

The judge and NAB's counsel Usman Rashid Cheema offered their condolences on the demise of Shehbaz’s mother Begum Shamim Akhtar.

NAB witnesses Punjab Assembly Deputy Secretary Faisal Bilal and Election Commission Assistant Director Khalid Mahmood also recorded their statements during the hearing.

Later, the court adjourned the hearing of the case until December 3.

On November 11, an accountability court had indicted Shehbaz, Hamza and other accused in a money laundering and asset beyond means case. All the accused pleaded not guilty.

The anti-graft watchdog claimed that Shehbaz and his family had laundered billions of rupees from various anonymous accounts through front-men, employees and money changers.

In the reference filed against the family, NAB stated that the assets of Shehbaz multiplied from Rs2 million to Rs7,000 million in the last three decades.

The reference stated that the family in connivance with benamidars, front men, close associates, employees and moneychangers developed an organised system of money laundering for accumulation of assets disproportionate to known sources of income to the tune of Rs7,328 million.

According to NAB, it had filed the reference on basis of an inquiry launched against Shehbaz after the State Bank of Pakistan’s Financial Monitoring Unit detected suspicious bank transactions.

NAB in the case had accepted requests from four people for becoming approvers against Shehbaz’s family in the reference including Muhammad Mushtaq alias Mushtaq Cheeni, his son Yasir Mushtaq, Shahid Rafique and Aftab Ahmad.

In June 2019, Muhammad Mushtaq alias Cheeni and his son Yasir Mushtaq, front men for the Shehbaz family, while recording their statements before the court, confessed that they had facilitated Suleman Shahbaz in whitening his Rs600 million black money through fake loan agreements and engineered telegraphic transfers.

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