LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader and Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz blasted the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) investigators for subjecting him to “political victimization” by summoning him second time within a period of one week in connection with the alleged money laundering of Rs25 billion by the Sharif family through their two sugar mills – Al-Arabia and Ramzan Sugar Mills.
Accompanied by a number of party workers who were extremely critical of the incumbent PTI government, the Punjab’s opposition leader appeared before the Sugar Investigation Team (SIT) of the FIA at its Temple Road office on Wednesday to record his statement in the Rs25 billion money laundering charges against the Sharif family.
On June 24, Hamza had appeared before the FIA investigators and recorded his statement which the latter declared “unsatisfactory” and announced re-summoning him.
Sources familiar with the development told Business Recorder that Hamza during his today’s appearance was “very angry” at the investigators and asked why he and his family members were being dragged into the same case the National Accountably Bureau (NAB) had instituted but could not prove corruption of a single penny.
He was of the view that when the NAB failed to prove any corruption against him and his family members, the FIA on the purported direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan started probing the same case to “politically victimize” the PML-N. The sources said that a five-member SIT, headed by FIA Lahore Director Muhammad Rizwan, question Hamza for less than an hour.
They said the opposition leader told the investigators that he remained behind bars for about 22 months in the same case which was first initiated by the NAB but the anti-graft watchdog failed to prove corruption of a single penny. Hamza also questioned why he and his family members were being “targeted” after his release from the Kot Lakhpat Jail.
The sources said the FIA on the previous hearing had asked Hamza to submit details regarding his role as chief executive officer/director of the Ramzan and Al-Arabia Sugar Mills and his bank account details. However, in today’s appearance, the opposition leader did not provide any documentary proof to the investigators and said that he had already responded to all the FIA queries during his incarceration.
“The NAB had investigated assets of my family, including myself. When it could not find any irregularity, I was released from the jail. However, the FIA started probing the same case after a gap of six months just to harass the PML-N on the wish and whims of the Prime Minister,” the opposition leader alleged.
Hamza told the FIA that he had declared all his assets before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the FIA is free to check the details. He claimed that the government’s confusion is evident from the FIA case as the relevant federal minister gave statements in this regard on various occasions. “The FIA investigation is of a ‘political nature’,” he alleged.
He also came down hard on the FIA officials for releasing “incorrect” information to the media during his previous hearing. During his previous hearing, Hamza had expressed his complete ignorance as to who had deposited large sums of money with his and sugar mills low cadre staff’s accounts.
According to the FIA charge-sheet, the agency has credible evidence that an amount of over Rs25 billion (identified so far) was deposited (including gratifications from sources extraneous to sugar business) to the bank accounts of peons and clerks of Ramzan Sugar Mills, Al-Arabia Sugar Mills and fake companies.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021