A Pakistani court on Wednesday extended pre-arrest bail to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Punjab chief minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz till May 14 in a Rs14-billion money laundering case.
"The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) special court Lahore on Wednesday accepted Shehbaz's application seeking exemption from personal appearance for one day. However, the court directed the premier to file a reply in the case otherwise it will initiate indictment proceedings on the next hearing on May 14," a court official told PTI. However, Hamza Sharif appeared before the court.
The official said the court also directed Shehbaz's counsel Advocate Amjad Pervez to present arguments before the court on May 14 on his contention that his client can't be indicted in this case.
Shehbaz is also the President of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party. Shehbaz and his sons - Hamza and Suleman - were booked by FIA in November 2020 under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Anti Money Laundering Act. Suleman is absconding and residing in the UK.
The FIA investigation has detected 28 benami accounts, allegedly of the Shehbaz family, through which an amount of 14 billion Pakistani Rupees (USD 75 million) was laundered from 2008 to 2018.
The FIA examined the money trail of 17,000 credit transactions. The amount was kept in "hidden accounts" and given to Shehbaz in his personal capacity, according to the charges.
Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court on Wednesday directed Punjab Governor Omer Sarfaraz Cheema to ensure the completion of the process of administering oath to Chief Minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz by April 28, either doing so himself or through a nominee.
Hamza was elected chief minister on April 16. Hamza and his party blamed ousted prime minister Imran Khan for the delay in oath-taking.
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