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LAHORE: The Special Court (Central) Friday adjourned the hearing to October 08 of the money laundering case filed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his family members.

During the hearing, Hamza did not appear before the court as he had sought exemption on medical grounds. Moments into the hearing, the prime minister also sought exemption as he had “important” matters to attend to.

Earlier the premier’s counsel told the court that his client will appear after some time while and the premier arrived accordingly. Starting his arguments, the counsel said that the first information report (FIR) registered against his clients mentioned that they were involved in money laundering worth rupees 25 billion from 2008-2018 through fake companies.

“The allegations are general in nature. The FIR also mentioned that the Sharif Group’s companies were used for money laundering. However, in those 10 years, Shehbaz was neither the director nor a shareholder of those companies.” The FIR, counsel said, was lodged after investigation and the initial paragraphs of the report do not mention Shehbaz Sharif.

The lawyer told the court that it is up to an individual whether they decide to keep movable or immovable property with them. At this, the court noted that they should declare it otherwise it becomes black money.

The counsel said, the court, with regards to the cases lodged in the previous government’s tenure has already observed that the FIA was used for political engineering. The counsel said that in the FIR it wasn’t mentioned that low-paid employees claimed that they opened bank accounts on Shehbaz’s directions. He said we will still have to review the FIR to confirm whether this comes in the FIA’s jurisdiction or not. “The FBR or the income tax department can take action in this matter,” he said.

“The prosecution used the name of Sharif group for political purposes. The name Sharif Group is not registered under the companies’ ordinance,” the counsel added. The court also allowed Shehbaz to speak when he interrupted his lawyer and said he wanted to speak to the court.

“I have some important business in Islamabad. If you excuse me, I will leave. But before that, I want to say something.” The premier told the court that he, in his capacity as the chief minister of Punjab for 20 years, made decisions that “hurt” his family’s sugar business. “I was requested to provide subsidy to sugar mills, but I refused. I refused as the amount was of the poor people of Punjab”, Shehbaz said.

The Prime Minister termed the money laundering case against him as “fake” and said that he never provided a subsidy to sugar mills. After the court allowed him and Shehbaz left the court.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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