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LAHORE: The Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) on Thursday withdrew its witnesses, the bank officials, for recording their statements in money laundering inquiry against leader of Opposition in National Assembly Mian Shehbaz Sharif and his sons before a city magistrate.

The court allowed the application and observed that the investigating officer would be at liberty to present any fresh application as and when required.

The FIA had submitted a list of 26 witnesses, all officers of different banks, before the magistrate with a request to record their statements under section 164 of CrPC. The FIA in its application also sought permission to withdraw further witnesses citing the reason that it has received information through a reliable source that MCB is harassing its bankers to refrain them from making voluntary disclosures.

The FIA said a digital evidence showing irrefutable evidence of an orchestrated harassment on the part of MCB was unearthed from the mobile phone of Muhammad Asim Suri, unit head of AMI/ CFT & L£As of compliance department. The said evidence revealed that Suri in his capacity of Law Enforcement Coordinator was influencing the witnesses (bankers of MCB) to purposefully omit specific pieces of information, which if volunteered, would expose the connivance of the bank and the real beneficiaries in this organized mega money laundering case. The bankers were also instructed to purposefully omit the names of the real beneficiaries.

The FIA had arrested Asim Khan Suri and Azhar Mehmood for their alleged involvement in the matter.

The agency said the witnesses opened/operated fictitious bank accounts in the name of low-wage employees of Ramzan Sugar Mills, owned by the Shehbaz’s family. It said the bankers did this under the pressure and influence of the Sharif family owing to the position of Shehbaz Sharif as chief minister of Punjab.

Both the father and the son are on pre-arrest bail in the money laundering inquiry till September 25. The FIA had booked Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman in November 2020 under financial fraud, impersonation, forgery, criminal misconduct and Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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