Two more approvers against Shahbaz family record statements

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau has strengthened its money laundering case against the Shahbaz Sharif family as two more approvers recorded their confessional statements on Saturday before a judicial magistrate that they facilitated the family in whitening their black money.

PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, his two sons Hamza Shahbaz, Suleman Shahbaz and other family members including women are facing money laundering allegations in an investigation before the NAB. On August 8, The News exclusively had reported that two suspects Aftab Mehmood and Shahid Rafique had shown their consent to become approver against the Shahbaz family in money laundering investigations. Now the bureau has three confessional statements against the Shahbaz family Aftab Mehmood, Shahid Rafique and Mushtaq Cheeni.

NAB officials produced both the accused before the Chairman NAB on August 9 as they filed an application to become approver. After getting approval from the chairman NAB, the bureau produced them before the Magisterial Court of Zulfiqar Bari.

Aftab Mehmood, while recording his statement, confessed that from 2008 to 2009, he made illegal telegraphic transfers (TTs) worth more than 2.4 million dollars to Pakistan to benefit the Shahbaz family.

“I was running a money exchange named Usman International in the United Kingdom and transferred the amount through TTs to the bank accounts of Hamza Shahbaz, Suleman Shahbaz, Nusrat Shahbaz and Rabia Imran Ali, wife of absconder Ali Imran Yousaf, using fake identities.” It is pertinent to mention here that the other approver Shahid Rafique is a cousin of Aftab Mehmood. Aftab said Shahid Rafique used to collect cash against TTs from the Shahbaz family equivalent to the amount sent by him to the accounts of Shahbaz family members. He said telegraphic transfers were arranged to whiten the black trash of Hamza, Suleman and Nusrat Shahbaz.

Shahid Rafique, is his statement, said he was a franchise holder of the Zarco Money Exchange and confessed that he provided a channel to the Shahbaz family for whitening their black money. He said he used fake identities for the purpose.

Both the accused had been arrested by the NAB on April 20. On June 17, Mushtaq alias Cheeni, and his son Yasir Mushtaq, alleged front men for Shahbaz family, in their confessional statement before the court, had stated that they facilitated Suleman Shahbaz, son of PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, in turning his Rs 600 million black money into white through fake loan agreements and engineered telegraphic transfers (TTs).

Meanwhile, an accountability court has extended for 11 days the physical remand of Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz in the money laundering and assets beyond means investigations. Hamza will be produced before the court on August 21. Now the hearings of all cases against Maryam Nawaz, Shahbaz Sharif and his sons will take place on August 21.

The NAB officials produced Hamza before the Accountability Court Judge Naeem Arshad and implored the court to extend the physical remand to carry out investigations. The NAB argued that investigators have to inquire Hamza about his bank accounts and money transactions.

The court inquired Hamza if he had any complaints. On which Hamza responded that he has no complaints but at least he should be informed what corruption he has committed. He said that he is facing false allegations and time will prove his innocence.

The court, after hearing both parties, extended the physical remand of Hamza by August 21.

After the hearing, Hamza, talking to the media, said he would talk only about Kashmir. He said bloodshed in Kashmir has made this Eid colourless. He cursed Modi, saying that one day Kashmiris will emerge as victorious.

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