Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday has extended interim bail of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and opposition leader in National Assembly (NA) Shehbaz Sharif till July 23 in money laundering and assets beyond income cases. As the court Court extends Shehbaz Sharif’s bail, there are questions if the NAB will file a legally strong reference against him.
— Times of lsIamabad (@TimesofIslambad) July 16, 2020
During the hearing, the PML-N leader appeared before the court and requested to extend his bail. On the occasion, strict security arrangements have been taken to avoid any untoward incident.
Recently, doctors advise Shehbaz Sharif to rest, it emerged on June 11 that Shehbaz Sharif had tested positive for coronavirus and his lawyer Attaullah Tarar confirmed about it. Tarar in a statement called for prayers for early recovery of Shehbaz Sharif who isolated himself at home. He added the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) put the opposition leader’s life in danger by summoning him.
Court extends Shehbaz Sharif’s bail: NAB’s stance
The accountability bureau has said that between 1998 to 2018, Shehbaz’s family assets grew from Rs.23 million to Rs.549 billion. “As a public office holder Shehbaz needs to explain the increase in his assets,” NAB said.
The accountability watchdog has also asked Shehbaz to submit bank details along with the loan taken from Barclays between 2005 to 2007.
Furthermore, NAB has also sought details of all the gifts received and given by the family, details of agriculture income from 2008 to 2019 and details about the utilization of Shehbaz’s Model Town residence as chief minister’s camp house.
Last year in December, NAB had issued orders to freeze 23 pieces of property belonging to the former Punjab chief minister and his sons Hamza and Suleman Shehbaz over the allegation that they acquired assets beyond their means and committed money laundering.
According to the accountability bureau, an investigation against Shehbaz, Hamza, Suleman and others for the offense of “corruption and corrupt practices” had revealed that Shehbaz had acquired properties in the name of his wives Nusrat Shahbaz Sharif and Tehmina Durrani.
Money Laundering case against PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif
As the court extends Shehbaz Sharif’s bail, it is important to look into allegations leveled against him. According to a confidential investigation report seen by the Daily Mail, millions of pounds were transferred into the bank accounts of Shehbaz’s family members, including his wife, children and son-in-law. It states to have interviewed key witnesses held on remand in jail, including a UK citizen, Aftab Mehmood, who claims that he had laundered millions on behalf of Shahbaz’s family from a nondescript office in Birmingham – without attracting suspicion from Britain’s financial regulators, who inspected his books regularly.
According to Daily Mail, investigators are convinced that some of the allegedly stolen money came from the Department for International Development (DFID)-funded aid projects. For rehabilitating and rebuilding lives of the poor, the DFID gave £54 million from UK taxpayers; and the legal documents allege that Shehbaz’s son-in-law received about £1 million from that fund.
As per claims by the Daily Mail, Britain’s National Crime Agency has been working closely with Pakistani investigators and Home Secretary Sajid Javid discussing the possible extradition of members of his family, who have taken refuge in London.
It is yet to be seen how does the NAB file a reference against the former chief minister. In the past, legally weak references were filed by the NAB which did not prove effective in any way.