Wednesday Sep 29, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday held a press conference in Islamabad to provide details of the money-laundering case against Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif.
Responding to Shahbaz's press conference earlier in the day, Chaudhry said that "he lied for more than one hour during the briefing".
"Shahbaz held a long press conference today but nobody was able to understand what he was trying to say," Fawad said. "He continued to lie throughout the one hour and 10 minutes of the press conference instead of providing answers to the allegations cases against him."
Shahbaz had held a press briefing after a UK court ordered his and his family's bank accounts restored. The PML-N president had said that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) could not prove corruption of "even a single penny" against him and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The information minister said that the "Sharif family has become habitual to distorting the truth."
He continued: "Unfortunately, fake news was disseminated two days ago and all those involved in publishing the news are well-known to the public for having ties with the Sharif family".
"The headlines that were carried [by a media outlet] were part of a fake propaganda," Chaudhry maintained, adding that the money-laundering probe initiated against the Sharif family in London was "not started upon the request of the Pakistani government."
He said that the two-year-long probe by the United Kingdom's National Crime Agency (NCA) was launched into the accounts of a frontman named Zulfiqar Ahmed.
"The NCA had started probing the accounts of Zulfiqar Ahmed and Suleman Shahbaz. It was the agency's own decision [and had nothing to do with the Pakistani government]."
The NCA also approached Pakistan's Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) to seek the details of financial transactions and hundis. "The case was neither initiated by the Pakistani government nor mentioned anything about Shahbaz Sharif," he said.
He said that there are two ongoing "ripe" cases against Shahbaz Sharif in Pakistani courts. One of the cases was registered by NAB Lahore against Shahbaz Sharif and his family members in reference to Rs7.32 billion.
Chaudhry said that for the last six months, the court did not have a judge, which allowed Shahbaz to hold press conferences and deliver speeches in the assembly. "It is because the proceedings of these cases are not being held on a day to day basis," he said.
Providing further details, Chaudhry said that there is another Rs25 billion case against Shahbaz registered by the FIA as a result of the probe carried out by the Sugar Inquiry Commission.
The minister said that when the PTI government and Prime Minister Imran Khan talk about accountability and looted wealth, they are only concerned because "this money belongs to the people of Pakistan".
"When we talk about accountability, we talk about handing over the looted money back to the people of Pakistan," said Chaudhry.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore earlier today, Shahbaz Sharif said that the ruling PTI’s ministers have been levelling allegations of corruption worth billions of rupees but could not prove any wrongdoing against him and his family.
The PML-N president said that he was sent to jail twice during the last three years. He said that when the government failed to prove corruption against him and his children they approached the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA).
The NCA conducted a probe in which it examined his financial transactions over the past 20 years and found no evidence of money laundering or criminal activities against him, the PML-N leader said, adding that finally the UK agency has asked the court that they wanted to end investigations against him and the UK court approved the request.
“Will UK court let us go unpunished if we had committed corruption?” he asked.
Criticising the prime minister, the PML-N leader said: “The NAB-Niazi nexus is a fixed match and FIA is working on the government’s directions.”
Shahbaz said that he lodged a defamation case against the Daily Mail and asked it provide evidence against him but the Daily Mail is yet to submit evidence in the case. In order to fabricate a story, meetings of the reporter, David Rose, had been arranged with imprisoned people, he said.
Those who are pretending to be Sadiq and Ameen spent millions of rupees to defame him, he added.
“Sidelining the Sharif family is the only agenda of the PTI-led government,” the PML-N president said, adding that the rulers had only wasted the nation’s time.
PM Imran Khan and his supporters have been levelling fake allegations against him and his family for last over three years, he said. “Has there been any doubt after the verdict of the UK court?" he asked.
On September 27, a UK court ordered the unfreezing of PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif and his family's bank accounts for lack of evidence of corruption and money laundering.
The UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) then restored the bank accounts of former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and those of his son, Suleman Sharif.
The NCA conducted a 17-month long probe in which it examined Shahbaz Sharif's financial transactions over the past 20 years. In it, no evidence of money laundering or criminal activities against the PML-N president or his family were found.
It submitted an investigation report of the bank accounts at the Westminster court in which it said that Shahbaz and his son were not involved in money laundering practices in Pakistan, Dubai and the UK.
The crime agency had requested the UK court for an extension when it first began probing the case, stating that it needed more time to complete the probe against Shahbaz in multiple countries.