Pakistan: Court Acquits PM, Son Over Laundering

Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, the former Chief Minister of Punjab, were both acquitted by a special court in Lahore province, bringing a close to the nation's Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) money laundering case.

Pakistan: Court Acquits PM, Son Over Laundering
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Facts

  • Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, the former Chief Minister of Punjab, were both acquitted by a special court in Lahore province, bringing a close to the nation's Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) money laundering case.
  • The FIA originally charged Sharif and his two sons in Nov. 2020, though his second son Suleman has yet to be tried since he relocated to London after the charges were filed.
  • The investigation began under former PM Imran Khan's administration, with the FIA alleging that then-opposition leader Sharif and his sons laundered 16.3 billion rupees ($200M) through 28 bank accounts between 2008 and 2018.
  • The indictments - under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Anti-Money Laundering Act - were set to be handed down last month, but the defense petitioned for an acquittal. The defense argued that the prosecution provided no witnesses and no links between the accused and the alleged proxy bank accounts.
  • In Pakistan, governments have historically targeted political opponents by subjecting them to legal battles to allegedly keep them away from political activities. Sharif was elected PM earlier this year after political upheaval led to Khan's removal.

Sources: Al Jazeera, abc, Buzzer, and Timesnow.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Dawn. This case was a farce from the very beginning, and thankfully the Lahore court was interested in the truth and not political gamesmanship. No illegal funds were found and no witnesses testified against Sharif and his son. The only explanation for these charges is former PM Khan pursuing a political vendetta.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Dunya. The Federal Investigation Agency followed a long paper trail showing money not linked to any official Sharif family business. After these bank accounts were analyzed, the FIA uncovered large amounts of suspicious money and multiple other co-conspirators, more than enough evidence to bring indictments. This investigation had probable cause.