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Wednesday, January 25, 2023
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UK ignores Suleman Shahbaz’s appeal, releases money laundering file

Shehbaz Sharif's son, Suleman Shahbaz made an appeal barring the release of the full case file. However, the British court rejected his appeal and directed the NCA to release the documents. 

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Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) earlier released documents related to a money laundering case against Shehbaz Sharif. Pakistan’s Asset Recovery Unit (ARU), led by the former adviser on accountability, Shahzad Akbar, made a request for the release of the documents.

Important to note, Shehbaz Sharif’s son, Suleman Shahbaz made an appeal barring the release of the full case file. However, the British court rejected his appeal and directed the NCA to release the documents.

Pertinent to mention, in September 2021, reports emerged that the UK court decided to unfreeze Shahbaz Sharif and his son Suleman’s accounts. The NCA failed to find any evidence of money laundering against the PML-N leader. Interestingly, the decision sparked cries that Shahbaz Sharif got acquitted.

Read more: PTI & PML-N grapple over Shahbaz Sharif’s “acquittal”

However, Shahzad Akbar rejected the impression of Shahbaz Sharif’s acquittal in the money laundering case in London. He stated that the news about the alleged acquittal is incorrect and misreported. Furthermore, he said neither the ARU nor the NAB demanded NCA investigate the PML-N leader over money laundering.

Moreover, Shahzad Akbar said the NCA contacted the institutions and asked for details of criminal inquiries. Meanwhile, the ARU only answered the NCA’s queries in a letter. It provided various details on pending investigations concerning Shehbaz and his family in 2019.

Additionally, Shahzad Akbar also clarified that the initial asset freezing order (AFO) was against Suleiman Shahbaz, not Shahbaz Sharif.

The NCA investigation

On the other hand, the new papers, released by The News International, clearly demonstrated that the entire investigation was focused on Shehbaz Sharif and his son and their friend Zulfiqar Ahmed who had made a payment to Shehbaz Sharif’s lawyers at Carter Ruck.

Furthermore, the media reported that the NCA investigated the money trail of two flats owned by Shehbaz Sharif, his associated bank account, and around £700,000 in Suleman’s accounts.

Read more: Who deposited money in personal bank accounts of Hamza Shehbaz?

The NCA investigation continued into Shehbaz Sharif for nearly two years as the NCA went back nearly 15 years to investigate Shehbaz Sharif’s accounts and financial affairs. However, it found no evidence of criminal conduct or fraud. As a result, the NCA dropped the case and released all assets of the Sharifs.