A special court in Pakistan’s Lahore on Wednesday extended pre-arrest for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Punjab chief minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz, in a PKR 14 billion ($75 million) money laundering case. Quoting a court official, news agency PTI said a special court of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) directed Sharif to file a response, failing which it will initiate indictment proceedings on the next hearing scheduled for May 14.
Besides this, the court accepted Sharif’s application seeking exemption from personal appearance for a day. His son, however, appeared before the court, PTI said.
The official said the court also asked the Pakistan prime minister’s counsel, Amjad Pervez, to present arguments on May 14 on his claim that his client could not be indicted in the case.
Sharif and his two sons – Hamza and Suleman – were booked by the FIA in November 2020 under sections of Pakistan’s Prevention of Corruption Act and Anti Money Laundering Act.
Suleman is absconding and living in Britain.
The FIA has identified 28 benami (anonymous) accounts that allegedly belong to the Sharif family, through which PKR 14 billion was laundered between 2008 and 2018. The agency examined the money trail – a total of 17,000 credit transactions. The money was kept in ‘hidden accounts’ and given to Sharif in his personal capacity, PTI reported citing the charges.
Meanwhile, the Lahore high court Wednesday directed Punjab governor Omer Sarfaraz Cheema to ensure completion of administering oath to Hamza as chief minister of the province by April 28 – either by himself or via a nominee. Hamza was elected on April 16.
After what was a long and tense political conflict, Sharif – who is also the chief of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) – was elected as the 23rd premier of Pakistan by the National Assembly earlier this month. He clinched the deal following his predecessor Imran Khan’s defeat in a no-confidence vote. Sharif secured 174 votes while ousted Khan and a majority of his lawmakers resigned soon after the voting commenced.
The 70-year-old Sharif is the younger brother of three-time former PM Nawaz Sharif.