Hamza’s physical remand extended for another 11 days

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Staff Report

LAHORE

An accountability court on Saturday extended physical remand of Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz for another 12 days in a case of alleged illegal assets and money laundering.

During Saturday’s hearing, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader told the court that the corruption charges against him are baseless. “If I have done corruption then the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should present evidence in court. NAB along with the court should prove the corruption in front of the public,” Hamza said.

The court then approved the accountability watchdog’s request to extend the physical remand of the PML-N leader and ordered Hamza to be presented on August 21.

Hamza had already spent 59 days on physical remand with the NAB.

In the last hearing on Aug 4, the prosecutor filed a report to the court and stated that assets worth Rs3.3 billion had been “identified” so far as illegally accumulated by Hamza, his brother Salman and their father Shahbaz Sharif.

The report alleged that the family of the suspect committed massive money laundering in the name of foreign remittances and loans. It said both brothers established two “benami” companies in 2016 — M/s Unitas Steel and M/s Good Nature Trading.

It said chief financial officer of the Unitas Steel, Nadeem Saeed and other officials of the company had been interrogated by the NAB. The suspects also established another benami company — M/s Unitas Distillery — which was not found in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) record.

It said Hamza received benefits from different family members, including brother Salman and sister Ms Rabia Ali under the garb of gifts. It claimed that investigation conducted so far revealed that Salman and Ms Rabia received foreign remittances in their bank accounts, which were found to be “fictitious”.

The report said both Salman and Ms Rabia had not joined investigation while the suspect (Mr Hamza) in custody had been non-cooperative in the investigation.

On June 11, NAB had arrested Hamza after the Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected his interim bail in the Ramzan Sugar Mills and money laundering cases.

NAB claims to have found that Hamza’s declared assets in 2003 were worth less than Rs20 million, which increased by almost 2,000% to over Rs410 million after his father became the chief minister.