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Lahore High Court granted post-arrest bail to Shehbaz Sharif in money laundering case

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday granted post-arrest bail to PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif accused in the money laundering case.

A three-member referee bench unanimously granted the bail, disagreeing with Justice Asjad Javed Ghural’s dissenting note to the decision of the then division bench’s Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar who had granted Shebaz bail earlier.

Justice Aalia Neelum and Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi were the other members of the bench.

Earlier Shehbaz Sharif’s counsels Senator Azam Nazir Tarar and Amjad Pervez had completed their arguments.

As the proceedings commenced today, NAB’s Special prosecutor Syed Faisal Raza Bukhari prayed to the court that there was an allegation of the transfer of Rs533 million on Shehbaz Sharif through TTs (telegraphic transfer).

He declared his assets as Rs2.1 million in 1990, which reached Rs41 million in 1998, the prosecutor argued.

“Several properties are in the name of Shehbaz Sharif’s wife Tehmina Daurani, which are under his control,” NAB’s prosecutor further claimed. He further said that about “thirteen industrial units and benami companies are in the name of Shehbaz Sharif and his relatives”.

Justice Najafi asked whether Shehbaz was a shareholder in the said companies and were the relatives shareholders of said companies.

“The relatives were also the shareholders of said companies,” NAB’s prosecutor informed the court.

“Were these companies established in 2005?”

To this, NAB replied that at different points of time after 2005, these companies were established. The prosecutor further added that eight major companies had also been established between 2008 and 2018. The assets of Rs299 million and 26 TTs had been transferred in Nusrat Shehbaz.

At this, Shehbaz’s counsel Amjad Pervez argued that this case was a hearing related to Shehbaz Sharif.

Salman Shehbaz received TTs valuing Rs1 billion and Rs60 million, the NAB argued further.

Justice Najafi asked that what was the age of Salman Shehbaz when he received his first TT? The NAB’s prosecutor replied that he was 23 years old at the time.

On the court’s query, the NAB’s prosecutor replied that the money directly was not transferred in Shehbaz’s accounts but of his relatives, who then gave him the money when he needed it.

“What does your investigations say about the sources of TTs,” the presiding judge asked. NAB replied that the persons who sent TTs told NAB that they had never gone abroad.

“TTs had been sent from UAE and England,” the prosecutor added.

The bench inquired if NAB investigated the matter of any kickbacks that were received. “If yes then please tell its resources and wherefrom these were received,” Justice Najafi asked.

Shehbaz’s counsel replied NAB had no answer for it as NAB prayed that the defendant had the allegation of assets beyond means and money laundering.

What aspects are necessary to investigate the matter of benamidar, did NAB investigate it properly, the presiding judge further asked.

“Salman Shehbaz received TT in 1996,” the NAB prosecutor replied.

“You are talking about Salman Shehbaz and we are asking about Shehbaz Sharif,” the bench observed. “You have to establish that Salman Shehbaz was dependent upon Shehbaz Sharif.”

The NAB prosecutor replied that a plot that Nusrat Shehbaz purchased in Model Town had been actually purchased with the money made by Shehbaz Sharif’s sons through TTs.

“Model Town’s residence was declared as Chief Minster Office for ten years and accused Shehbaz Sharif had been living in her wife’s house,” the NAB further prayed.

At which Shehbaz’s counsel replied his client was still living at the Model Town residence with his wife at which the courtroom reverberated with a loud laugh when bench’s head responding said: “I think Shehbaz Sharif is living in jail”.

The bench after hearing detailed arguments announced the decision with consensus. “The bail is allowed with the consensus of colleague judges”, the presiding Judge Justice Najafi announced.

National Assembly Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on September 28, 2020 after the LHC rejected his bail plea in a money laundering case.

The NAB reference mainly accuses the PML-N leader of being the beneficiary of assets held in the name of his family members and benamidars who had no sources to acquire such assets.

‘Truth is out today’

Meanwhile, talking to media persons outside the LHC, senior PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said that Shehbaz Sharif’s innocence was proven today.

He went on to add that political victimisation at the hands of Prime Minister Imran Khan and “his NAB” was put to an end by the court’s larger bench, vindicating Sharif.

Sanaullah observed that the claims made by the premier and his aide Shehzad Akbar bore no fruit, saying that truth behind the forged case came out today.

“Today the nation has the right to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan whether he worked on [any] welfare projects since he came to power, made any effort to ameliorate the fate of the poor masses or [if] he strived for putting the country on the right track,” the PML-N leader stated.

“The answer will be a ‘no’, as the PM [instead] used his energies to corner the PML-N, creating designs on how to involve them in forged cases,” he added.

Now, the PML-N leader added, time has come for fair and free elections, free from anyone’s involvement.

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