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UK court ‘acquits’ Shehbaz Sharif, family of money laundering charges

LONDON – A court in the United Kingdom has ordered the restoration of frozen bank accounts of PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and his family members in a case related to money laundering and other corruption activities, Pakistani media reported.

The ruling was announced by Westminster court after Britain’s National Crime Agency submitted an investigation report on seized bank accounts held by Shehbaz Sharif and his son Salman Shehbaz. 

The probe report said that no evidence was found to support the allegations that the leader of opposition in the National Assembly and his family members are involved in money laundering and corruption.

The UK’s top agency reviewed Sharifs’ financial matter spanning 20 years in its 21-mont-long investigation.

The probe had been launched on a request made by the Government of Pakistan, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and an asset-recovery unit.

The British court had frozen the bank accounts of the former Punjab chief minister and his son in 2019 when the investigation had been launched against them.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to PM on Accountability Shahzad Akbar said that the news about alleged ‘acquittal’ of Shabaz Sharif or his son run by one news channel is incorrect and misreporting.

“The investigation by the NCA against Suleiman Shabaz and some of his family members was not initiated at the request of ARU or NAB,” he clarified.

It was a result of a suspicious transaction reported by a bank to NCA. Certain funds transferred by Suleiman Shabaz from Pakistan to UK in 2019 were declared as suspicious transaction by the UK authorities and NCA secured an asset freezing order (AFO) from court against these funds, he said.

Akbar said that NCA decided to stop investigating these funds and therefore agreed for release of these funds through court.

“It is clarified that such a release order is not an acknowledgement that funds are from a legitimate source.”

“It is clarified that there is no acquittal of any sort as reported as there was no trial! funds were frozen by NCA and NCA has decided to not investigate these funds anymore,” he said.

Suleiman Shabaz remains a fugitive in money laundering case against him and his father before an accountability court in Lahore.

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