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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s son Suleman Shahbaz on Wednesday approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking protective bail so after his return he can appear before a relevant court in a money laundering case.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan will hear the petition moved by Suleman’s lawyer Amjad Pervaiz. The PM’s son has sought two weeks’ protective bail to appear before the court in a money laundering case registered against him.

Suleman has stated in the petition that he is a “businessman” and has never been a public officeholder. He also maintained that a “baseless” and “false case of money laundering” has been filed against him.

He also claimed that all shares are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and that he had never received a notice from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The petitioner stated, “I have been residing in the United Kingdom since 2018.” He maintained that the FIA filed a case against him in his absence. “Despite the fact I had been living in the UK since October 27th, 2018, I had never received a notice from the FIA, who had filed a case against me while I was away. I left the country in 2018, but the case was only lodged in 2020 and afterwards.” Therefore, he requested the court to grant him protective bail for two weeks.

According to the petition, “Suleman was the target of political retaliation and he now wants to show up and demonstrate his innocence.”

Suleman who was declared an absconder in a money laundering case has requested the court to grant him protective bail as he wants to return to Pakistan to appear before the court in the case against him.

An accountability court, in 2019, had also issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of Suleman Shehbaz in a money laundering case.

The FIA’s banking crime circle had claimed to have unearthed billions of rupees stashed money in the bank accounts of his employees.

The FIA had registered a case against then opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif and his sons, Hamza and Suleman in November 2020 under Sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34, and 109 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

In December 2021, the agency had submitted a challan against Shehbaz and Hamza over their alleged involvement in Rs16 billion’s money laundering case. The FIA’s report had alleged that Shehbaz family had 28 benami accounts, which were detected by an investigation team.

They claimed that money laundering of Rs16.3 billion was committed during 2008-18 through these accounts. The FIA had examined the money trail of 17,000 credit transactions. The report had added up that the amount was kept in hidden accounts and given to Shehbaz in a personal capacity.

The FIA had alleged that the money received from the accounts of low-wage employees by Shehbaz had been transferred outside Pakistan to his family through the illegal practice of hundi. At least 11 low-paid employees of the Sharif family were said to have been guilty of facilitating this alleged money laundering.

However, in October, a special central court acquitted Prime Minister Shehbaz and his son Hamza Shehbaz in the Rs16 billion money laundering case.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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