LHC turned down bail petition of Hamza Shehbaz

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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday turned down a bail petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shehbaz in a money laundering and assets-beyond-means case against him, a private TV channel reported.

On February 6, the LHC had granted Hamza Shehbaz bail in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case. He had been indicted in the sugar mills case, along with his father Shehbaz Sharif, on April 9 last year.

On April 17, 2019, Hamza was granted pre-arrest bail by the LHC, which also restrained NAB from arresting him in cases pertaining to ownership of assets beyond means until further notice. Hamza was also directed to submit bail bonds worth Rs10 million at the time. The PML-N leader was arrested by NAB from inside the LHC on June 11 in the Ramzan Sugar Mills and money laundering cases after the two-member LHC bench cancelled Hamza’s bail.

A two-member bench presided by Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi heard the petition. During the hearing, the court remarked that Hamza has failed to give satisfactory answers regarding his sources of income.

The petitioner’s counsel stated that money laundering laws do not apply to Hamza 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. He 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.

During the arguments, the court noted that Hamza’s father, former chief minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif, was a three-time public office holder, to which Hamza replied that he himself was not once in any such position.

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

When the court inquired regarding increase in Hamza’s personal assets over the years, the NAB prosecutor said there is an increase of more than Rs 400 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.

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