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Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar has alleged that Hamza Shahbaz accumulated 95 percent of his assets through fake telegraphic transfers (TTs). Addressing a press conference here on Monday, Akbar claimed that those who couldn't even afford to travel outside Lahore have been sending huge funds abroad through TTs.
He further alleged that 99 percent assets owned by Salman Shehbaz, son of Shehbaz Sharif, have been accumulated through bogus TTs. Likewise, the company owned by Ali Imran, son-in-law of Shahbaz Sharif, received a draft of Rs 20 million. "Hamza Shahbaz is under custody while Salman Shahbaz is still at large," Akbar added.
Shahzad Akbar said that former director Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) Naveed Akbar has already filed an application for plea bargain with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Naveed Akbar made paid Rs 131 million to Ali Imran and the amount was were transferred to Imran's company from the fund created for earthquake victims, he alleged. He added, "A street vendor identified as Manzoor sent money to Shahbaz Sharif's sons."
Regarding the report of Daily Mail, Akbar said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) tried to establish a link between a picture of 2018 (Imran Khan and the reporter) and story published which has exposed Shahbaz Sharif's corruption.
"Looted wealth of the country will be recovered from Shahbaz's family," vowed Akbar. He said that Daily Mail story covered only a small faction of Shahbaz Sharif's corruption. He denied that he had exercised influence in publishing of the story.
He showed the copy of a pay order of Rs 20 million sent in September 2002 to a private company Messers Ali and Co, which is allegedly owned by Ali Imran. The money, according to the pay order, was transferred from the earthquake reconstruction fund, Akbar said.
He added that Naveed Akbar had admitted that he paid the amount as bribe. Akbar showed copies of more pay orders and demand drafts that indicated the transfer of money from the earthquake reconstruction fund's account to Imran's company.
The special assistant said that the assets beyond known means case against Shahbaz Sharif's family had started after the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) detected "suspicious transactions" from the bank accounts of the accused.
Akbar said that FMU's data showed that foreign remittances amounting to more than $26 million were transferred to the accounts of Sharif family members more than 200 times.
He stated that the people who had allegedly sent remittances to the Sharif family had been found to be poor people, self-employed as food vendors or labourers, who could not have realistically afforded to transfer such huge amounts of money.
When asked about the rebuttal issued by DFID to Daily Mail story, Akbar said it was not a separate statement and had been included in the published story. "DFID's internal audit report also points toward irregularities," Akbar added.
"DFID funded a project and money was stolen from those funds. It is not about DFID - it is about money stolen by [authorities] here," he further said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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