ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court on Saturday extended bail for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son in a Rs16 billion ($80 million) money laundering case.
Sharif, his sons Hamza, who is chief minister of Punjab province, and Suleman, who resides in London, were booked by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in November 2020 under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Anti Money Laundering Act.
They were set to be indicted in the case in the previous hearing on May 14 but it was delayed because the prime minister was in the UK and postponed his return to the country in order to visit the UAE to offer condolences over the death of its ailing president.
Sharif and Hamza appeared before the FIA special court in Lahore for the first time since assuming office in April.
While the presiding judge adjourned the hearing and extended their bail until May 28, he issued bailable arrest warrants for three other accused in the case, including Suleman, who did not appear in court.
The prime minister said during the hearing that the case against him was “political,” Dawn daily reported.
“Shehbaz, while speaking in the court, said that the United Kingdom's National Crime Agency (NCA) had conducted an investigation for nearly two years but could not find ‘even one rupee of corruption’ against him.”
He added that the NCA was asked by the former Pakistani government to probe him.
Sharif, who became prime minister last month after his immediate predecessor, Imran Khan, was ousted in a no-confidence vote.
He is the president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and the younger brother of PMLN-N supremo Nawaz Sharif — three-time prime minister who was barred by the Supreme Court in 2017 from holding public office and went abroad on medical bail after serving a few months of a 10-year jail corruption sentence.
The Sharifs have always said the cases against them are politically motivated and driven by now ex-PM Khan who won power in 2018 vowing to root out corruption among what he cast as a venal political elite.