Pakistani PM and Son Acquitted From Money Laundering Case
A Pakistani court acquitted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son from a money laundering and corruption case filed against them in 2020, Radio Pakistan announced.
Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz, the former chief minister of the most populous Punjab province, were facing the lawsuits during former prime minister Imran Khan’s tenure. They were accused of laundering over US$200 million.
A special court judge Ijaz Hassan Awan in eastern city of Lahore declared the acquittal verdict in front of Sharif’s lawyers last Wednesday. Sharif’s attorney told reporters the accusations against his client were “totally baseless and politically motivated,” the Associated Press reported.
“This is the day of acquittal from the false, baseless, political revenge-based case of money laundering, thank Allah Almighty for that. Despite the worst practices, use of state force and holding institutions hostage, we stood before the court, the law and the people”, the Prime Minister said on Twitter.
The money laundering and corruption case was filed against Sharif and his two sons Hamza and Suleman by the Federal investigation Agency (FIA) in November 2020.
Suleman, who is currently living in London, did not go on trial for the lawsuit.
The FIA accused all three of laundering $200 million abroad from 2008 to 2018.
Sharif, who was elected prime minister in April this year following Khan’s turbulent removal from office, was arrested in 2020 on the money laundering case. He was released on bail in April 2021.
The current president had also been arrested back in 2018 due to graft accusations, months after Khan assumed office as the country’s prime minister.
Osama Malik, a legal expert, told the OCCRP that Sharif and his son Hamza were freed from the money laundering case due to a lack of evidence, and that this was admitted by the prosecutors.
“The case, like many filed during the Khan’s government's tenure, were considered as politically motivated by many legal analysts and jurists, and this was mentioned in the U.S. State Department’s 2021 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Pakistan,” Malik said in a phone interview.
Human Rights Watch urged Pakistan to stop using the country’s anti-graft agency to harass opposition figures.