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Monday, April 15, 2024

Suleman Shehbaz’s peon, clerk appear to be billionaires

Suleman Shehbaz’s peon had Rs2.3bn and a clerk Rs1bn in their accounts. A report reveals that Maqsood, a peon, also bought a Mercedes from that money.

The peon and clerks of Suleman Shehbaz, the youngest son of Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, have money in their accounts worth billions, The Express Tribune reported on Tuesday. According to the report, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Banking Crime Circle Lahore traced secret bank accounts of Suleman’s employees with Rs9.5 billion deposits.

The report relied on sources in the FIA and claimed that the employees worked in the Ramzan Sugar Mills and Al-Arabiya Sugar Mills. The FIA had reportedly provided details of those accounts to a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which was looking into the case. Maqsood, a peon, had Rs2.3 billion in his account and he also bought a Mercedes worth Rs15 million from that money, the publication said.

Similarly, Shabbir Qureshi, a clerk, had Rs1 billion in his account; Rs240 million was found in Rana Wasim’s account, Rs640 million in Iqrar’s account, and Rs520 million in clerk Tanveerul Haq’s account. Rs1.2 billion was deposited in the account of Accounts Clerk Khizar Hayat, and Rs450 million was deposited in the account of Tauqeeruddin.

Read More: Will Shehbaz Sharif finally return to Pakistan on June 11?

“The FIA, Banking Crime Circle, Lahore has traced these secret bank accounts and provided information to the JIT, while the FIA’s Banking Crime Circle has expanded the scope of the investigation and sought details of the accounts of all these employees,” the report said.

According to the report, details had also been sought from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) regarding companies in the name of these employees. It added that once all the details are received, a full report will be provided to the JIT.

A combined investigation team (CIT) of the FIA had summoned the employees of the Sharif family for investigation. The employees of the Al-Arabiya Sugar Mills appeared before the investigation team and recorded statements about their bank accounts, The Express Tribune reported.

Notably, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) decided to approach the National Crime Agency in UK and Interpol for the extradition of Salman Shehbaz, as he had been declared a fugitive in a money laundering case against the Sharif family. However, it did not take place.

Read More: “I was offered premiership before 2018 polls,” Shehbaz Sharif

Corruption charges against Sharifs

The Shehbaz family is accused of money laundering, corruption, and kickbacks. On December 6, 2019, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar alleged that the PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif was involved in corruption worth billions of rupees, claiming his assets had grown by 70 per cent during the last 10 years.

He said Shahbaz Sharif’s son Salman Shahbaz’s assets also grew by thousands of times, whereas a startling increase was witnessed in assets owned by his other son Hamza Shahbaz. He also accused Shahbaz Sharif of establishing 32 fake companies with the money brought back through the TT transactions.

On July 14, the Mail on Sunday published a story that accused the former Punjab chief minister and his family of allegedly embezzling money from aid given by Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) and laundering it in the United Kingdom.

In the report, the paper claimed that the DFID poured more than £500 million of UK taxpayers’ money into Punjab in the form of aid during Shehbaz’s tenure as chief minister.

“Yet, say investigators, all the time that DFID was heaping him and his government with praise and taxpayers’ cash, Shahbaz and his family were embezzling tens of millions of pounds of public money and laundering it in Britain,” writes reporter David Rose. “They are convinced that some of the allegedly stolen money came from DFID-funded aid projects.”

The report says Shehbaz’s son Suleman has denied the allegations against him and his family, “saying they were the product of a ‘political witch-hunt’ ordered by Pakistan’s new prime minister, the former cricketer Imran Khan.”