The PML-N and the PTI government on Tuesday exchanged allegations in the wake of the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) submitting its investigation report to the Westminster Magistrate Court, requesting it to set aside the accounts freezing orders for PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and his son Suleman.
“The unfreezing of accounts after 20 months of investigation means that the NCA had found no evidence of money laundering or any other financial wrongdoing against our party president and his son,” PML-N Vice President and former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said at a news conference in Lahore.
Abbasi, who was accompanied by other party leaders Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Ata Tarar, added that all the evidence provided by the Pakistani government through the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU), National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and even Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) did not hold ground with the NCA.
“An exhaustive investigation was carried out. Instead of looking into six years, the NCA looked into 20 years of transactional records of Shehbaz and Suleman,” he pointed out.
He noted that if the NCA had any doubt of financial wrongdoing, the accounts would not have been unfrozen.
“Since yesterday [Monday], the ministers and advisers have been trying to wash their hands of this case, claiming that the government had not contacted the agency in London against Shehbaz and his son.”
Referring to ARU Chairman Mirza Shahzad Akbar, who is also the adviser to the PM on interior and accountability, the PML-N leader said the person who had claimed the case was his responsibility was now saying that he had nothing to do with it.
Abbasi maintained that Barrister Zia Naseem, on the letterhead of the ARU office, had written to the NCA to inform the agency about the cases against Shehbaz and his son in Pakistan.
He added that the NCA, taking cognisance of this letter, went to court seeking permission to freeze the accounts.
The PML-N leader said the investigation, spanning over 20 months, took place simultaneously in Pakistan, the UK and UAE.
“The money in these accounts was transferred through legal means, and hence, Shehbaz and his son gave permission to the authorities to look into them.”
Abbasi said NAB Lahore DG Shahzad Saleem even went to London to meet with the officials of NCA to provide them with details against Shehbaz and his son.
Speaking to the occasion, Iqbal said Akbar was trying to mislead the people yet again.
He added that this was a “fake” government that lived by “propagating fake news”.
“Today, the adviser [Akbar] claimed that the inquiry was against Suleman and that Shehbaz had nothing to do with it.”
Earlier in the day, Akbar refuted reports of the “acquittal” of Shehbaz and Suleman in a money laundering case from a London court.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he said the impression of Shehbaz and his son Suleman's “acquittal” by a UK court in the money laundering case was “wrong”.
The adviser said the investigation by the NCA against Suleman and some of his family members was not initiated at the request of the ARU or NAB. “However, the NCA had contacted Pakistan in connection with the two suspicious transactions,” he added.
Akbar said the two-page verdict of the UK court was issued on September 10 and Shehbaz’s name was not even mentioned once in the whole order.
Akbar further explained that no case was filed against Shehbaz outside the country so the PML-N “projecting this theory” was absolutely wrong.
“However, there are still two money laundering cases against the PML-N president in Pakistan.”
Akbar further clarified that such a release order was not an acknowledgment that funds were from a legitimate source.
Separately, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill said the PML-N had “lost its image” at the international level mainly due to “massive corruption”.
Talking to a private news channel, he said former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz’s accounts were frozen in 2019 and the Sharif family was a “limited company”.
“A local magistrate of the NCA in UK has given a clean chit to Shehbaz Sharif but it is not valid,” he added.
(With input from APP)
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ