National Assembly Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday appeared before an investigation team of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in connection with its probe into a Rs25 billion money laundering case.
On June 15, The FIA's Anti-Corruption Circle issued a notice to the PML-N president, asking him to appear in person before its investigators along with relevant documents. On Tuesday, Shehbaz appeared before a five-member team, led by FIA Punjab Zone-1 Director Dr Rizwan, at the agency’s Lahore office.
The team interrogated the PML-N leader for around one hour at the end of which Shehbaz returned to his residence without answering the questions of the reporters.
The agency has also summoned Shehbaz’s son, Hamza Shehbaz, who will appear before the FIA on Thursday. A day earlier, an additional district and sessions judge had granted pre-arrest bail to both the PML-N leaders in the money laundering scam.
According to sources, the FIA interrogators were not satisfied with the replies of Shehbaz and have decided to summon him once again. They said the PML-N leader also requested the FIA officials not to disclose the content of Tuesday's interrogation to the media.
Interestingly, the interim bail granted to Shehbaz and his son explicitly mentioned that the PML-N leaders will have to appear before the investigators whenever summoned.
The FIA accuses Shehbaz Sharif and his family members of laundering about Rs25 billion using the bank accounts of employees working for the Ramzan Sugar Mills and the Al-Arabia Sugar Mills – companies owned by the family.
According to the FIA, Shehbaz and his family members laundered money using 20 bank accounts of peons, clerks, cashiers and warehouse managers employed in the sugar mills.
About Rs2.70 billion were laundered through the bank account of a peon, Maqsood, and about Rs2.80 billion were laundered through the bank account of another employee, Haji Naeem.
It claimed that about Rs2.5 billion were laundered in the name of another employee working as a driver whereas about Rs1.75 billion were laundered through the bank account of another peon, Aslam. The FIA alleged that about Rs4.5 billion were laundered using accounts of clerks Azhar and Ghulam Shabir Hayat.
The bank accounts of a number of other employees – Qaiser Abbas, Akbar, Iqrar, Anwar, Yaseen, Ghazanfar, Tauqeer, Zafar Iqbal, Kashif Majeed and Masroor Anwar – were also used, the FIA added.
The FIA accused the chief financial officer of the Sharif Group of Companies of supervising all the money laundering. It said Shehbaz Sharif’s camp office was used to collect the money and sacks full of currency notes were delivered to the office of his son Suleman Shehbaz under police protocol.
All that money was later sent abroad by hawala and hundi, the FIA alleged.