–Shahzad Akbar accuses ex-Punjab CM of siphoning off Rs7bn
–Says govt favours settlement in civil cases, can’t divulge details of Malik Riaz settlement case due to confidentiality agreement
ISLAMABAD: A day after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government of maligning him, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Barrister Shahzad Akbar said that the PML-N chief was at the helm of a ‘sophisticated money-laundering network’ operated from the Chief Minister’s Secretariat during his tenure in Punjab.
Addressing a press conference along with Communication Minister Murad Saeed, Akbar claimed that “a sum of over Rs7 billion had been laundered by just one company Good Nature Trading Company through 200 fake Telegraphic Transfer (TTs)”. “The assets of Suleman Shehbaz had increased by over 8,000 times over the past decade,” he added.
He said that a “new business empire was established [by Sharifs] by utilising the corruption amount through a network of fake TTs, which was totally separate from the family’s business of Ittefaq Group”.
Sharing details of the alleged money laundering, he said that Shehbaz established a “fake company [named as] Good Nature Trading Company and appointed his front men Nisar Gill as Director Political Affairs in CM Secretariat and Ali Ahmed as Director Policy CM Punjab”.
“These two individuals laundered money on Shehbaz’s behalf,” claimed the PM’s aide, adding that the company allegedly managed by Suleman was involved in business transactions of Rs7 billion.
According to Akbar, two more persons, Shoaib Qamar and Mansoor Anwar, were allegedly involved in the alleged money laundering network as “cash boys”.
“They withdrew Rs2.1 billion cash from the account of Good Nature Company. Rs16 million were deposited in the account of Shehbaz Sharif, who transferred them to [wife] Tehmina Durrani and the same amount was used for purchasing property in Whispering Pines Villas,” he claimed.
“The same cash boys deposited Rs25 million to Suleman’s account after withdrawing them from the Good Nature Company,” he added.
Akbar said that another “amount was transferred to account of Hamza Shehbaz, who transferred it to the account of his wife and utilized the same amount for purchasing properties in Johar Town, Lahore. The remaining amount was stashed away through TTs”.
Moreover, an amount Rs6.8 billion was withdrawn from Good Nature Company’s account, out of which Rs4.7 billion was injected in another company, he claimed.
He also asked Shehbaz, “Was it not a fact that you had received kickbacks and commission at your residence 96-H Model Town and was it a fact that your ‘Green Bullet Proof Land Cruiser and Elite Force Punjab’ were used in transferring the black money at your another office 55-K, Model Town residence?”
“Had you not constructed 96-H, Model Town Lahore from the money laundered through these TTs?” he questioned.
He claimed four money exchange companies, including Al Zaroni Exchange Company, Rames Tax Exchange, transferred a huge amount of money in the account of Nusrat Shehbaz through TTs.
SETTLEMENT IN CIVIL CASES CASES:
Akbar said that the government encouraged settlement in civil cases as it does not wish to keep people in jail, while alluding to a settlement in a case concerning property tycoon Malik Riaz.
The PM’s aide claimed that this was the first time in history that money had been repatriated from another country through legal process.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom (UK) on Tuesday announced it had agreed to a settlement of £190 million with Riaz to resolve an investigation into his assets in Britain.
Commenting on the settlement, he said that it was important to note that the “settlement was reached in a civil case not a criminal case”. The government cannot divulge further details due to a confidentiality agreement with the British government, he added.
Responding to a question, he said that civil recovery was easy in the UK and the government was working on it.
Addressing Riaz’s claims that the money had been paid to the Supreme Court (SC), he said that the money will be taken from the SC and handed over to the state. He also maintained that the government was thankful to the UK government and the NCA for expediting the investigation and returning the money to Pakistan.
To another question, Akbar said the repatriated money had a link with Hassan Nawaz’s property in London.
“Plea bargain option existed for [former prime minister] Nawaz Sharif as the government merely wanted to recover the [looted] money and does not want to keep anyone in jail,” he added.
He said that he was still waiting for Shehbaz to sue the Daily Mail as claimed by him to preserve the honour and dignity of Pakistan and its people.