LHC rejects Hamza Shehbaz's bail plea in money laundering case

LHC rejects Hamza Shehbaz's bail plea in money laundering case

Lahore (Web Desk): The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday rejected Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shehbaz's  bail plea in a case pertaining to money laundering and assets beyond means.

A two-member bench of the LHC headed by Justice Syed Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi heard the petition.

During today's hearing, the court remarked that Hamza had failed to give satisfactory answers regarding his sources of income.

Hamza's counsel, Salman Aslam Butt stated that money laundering laws do not apply to his client as they were introduced after he had allegedly committed the crime.

He said the money in question was transferred into his accounts before money laundering laws were introduced.

The lawyer recalled that the first ordinance against money laundering was introduced in 2007, which lapsed in 90 days. The second ordinance was introduced in 2009, and the actual law against money laundering was introduced in 2010.

The court remarked that if it accepts the applicant’s point of view, the anti-money laundering law will be rendered completely redundant.

Hamza Shehbaz's lawyer contended that every detail had been provided in the accused's income tax returns.

When the court inquired regarding the increase in Hamza's personal accounts over the years, the NAB prosecutor said there was an increase of more than Rs400 million in the said accounts from 2009 till 2018.

The court inquired if the money had been deposited directly into Hamza's personal accounts, to which the prosecutor responded in the affirmative.

On February 6, the LHC had granted Hamza Shehbaz bail in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.

The PML-N leader had been indicted in the sugar mills case along with his father, former Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, on April 9 last year.

The NAB filed a reference against Hamza and Shehbaz on February 18, 2019 alleging that the former Punjab CM misused his authority and got constructed a 10-km sludge carrier in the Chiniot district to facilitate Ramzan Sugar Mills, owned by his sons.

The anti-graft body had alleged that the step inflicted a loss of Rs213 million to the national exchequer.

On April 17 2019, Hamza was granted pre-arrest bail by LHC, which also restrained NAB from arresting him in cases pertaining to ownership of assets beyond means, until further notice.

The Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly was also directed to submit bail bonds worth Rs10 million at the time.

Hamza was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on June 11, in the money laundering case after the LHC had rejected his applications for extension in interim bail.