NAB finds more ‘illegal transactions’ of Shehbaz’s sons

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday detected another $2.9 million alleged money laundering transactions of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s sons – Hamza and Salman.

“Hamza Shehbaz (opposition leader in Punjab Assembly) and Salman Shehbaz had laundered $2.9m through 18 persons, most of them never visited the United Kingdom,” an official source told Dawn on Thursday.

All the suspects involved in facilitating Shehbaz’s sons had no record in the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), thus NAB has termed them ‘ghost remitters’.

They have been identified as Faiz Rasool, Muhammad Saqib, Muhammad Shakoor, Pervaiz, Muhammd Kamal, Muhammad Sarwar, Muhammad Kashif, Anees Mughal, Faisal Rasool, Iftikhar, Nisar Ahmed, Bashir, Noor Alam, Muhammad Moosa, Younas, Umer Hussain, Mansoor and Anjum Ali.

Bureau to make fresh evidence part of reference

“Through the Usman Exchange Company this laundering of $2.9m through 177 transactions was made by Hamza and Salman,” he said, adding the NAB would make the new evidence part of the reference filed against the Shehbaz family.

According to a fresh NAB report, “Not only have the family members of Shehbaz Sharif accepted and utilised foreign remittances from ‘fake/ghost’ remitters all of them have duly acknowledged their receipts into their personal bank accounts in black and white. They signed the bank’s ‘Due Diligence Forms’ for inward remittances and also Form R required under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act. These 177 fake foreign remittances in the name of fake foreign investment remitters coming from them either from business relations, cousins or friends for the purpose of investment in business.”

An accountability court last week had indicted Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz and eight other suspects in a Rs7 billion reference of money laundering and assets beyond means.

Denying the charges as false and fabricated, Mr Shehbaz said he had been victimised on political grounds. He said all the cases pending against him had been engineered by his political opponents.

As the suspects pleaded not guilty, the judge directed the NAB to present its witnesses on the next hearing for their evidence.

The reference mainly accused Shehbaz of being a beneficiary of the assets held in the name of his family members and benamidars, who had no sources to acquire such assets.

The reference said Shehbaz and his family failed to justify the sources of funds used for acquisition of assets.

Both Shehbaz and Hamza are in Kot Lakhpat jail on judicial remand. Salman is absconding in the UK.

Prince William ‘tentatively’ welcomes new probe into 1995 Diana interview

Prince William has “tentatively welcomed” an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding a BBC interview in 1995 with his mother, Princess Diana, royal officials said on Thursday.

William, who is second in line to the throne, said in a statement that the probe is “a step in the right direction”, He added that it “should help establish the truth behind the actions” that led to the interview as well as “subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time”.

The BBC announced Wednesday it has appointed a retired senior judge to lead an investigation into the 1995 interview after Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, made renewed complaints this month that journalist Martin Bashir used false documents and other dishonest tactics to convince Diana to agree to the interview.

The investigation will consider if the steps taken by the broadcaster and Bashir were appropriate, and whether those actions influenced Diana’s decision to give the interview. It will also look into how much the BBC knew about the “mocked-up bank statements” that Charles Spencer claimed Bashir produced, purporting to show payments made to staff working for Spencer and the royal family.

The 1995 interview, in which Diana famously said “there were three of us in this marriage” — referring to Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles — was watched by millions of people and sent shockwaves through the monarchy.

Diana divorced from Charles in 1996 and died in a Paris car crash in 1997 as she was pursued by paparazzi. Charles married Camilla, now the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005.