In a significant development, Suleman Shehbaz, the son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and other co-accused in the Rs16 billion money laundering case, have been acquitted by a special district court in Lahore. The court, after hearing the acquittal pleas filed by Suleman and his co-accused, reached the decision on Monday.
During the proceedings, the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) submitted replies to several questions posed by the court but failed to satisfy the judge. The court expressed its dissatisfaction with the FIA’s response and raised concerns regarding the lack of evidence and inconsistencies in the investigation.
The judge inquired about the identity of the individuals conducting the money laundering inquiry, to which the FIA’s lawyer stated that a joint investigation team (JIT) led by Dr. Rizwan had carried out the investigation. However, when questioned about recorded witness statements and action taken against those who changed their stance during the probe, the FIA’s investigation officer remained silent and admitted no action was taken.
The court further questioned the evidence presented by the FIA and expressed anger over the agency’s failure to satisfy its concerns. The judge also raised questions about the absence of former FIA DG Sanaullah Abbasi during the hearing. The FIA lawyer stated that there was no direct evidence against Suleman regarding money laundering and no incriminating evidence was found in his bank accounts during the investigation.
As a result of the unsatisfactory proceedings and the FIA’s inability to provide compelling evidence, the court accepted the pleas submitted by the accused and acquitted Suleman Shehbaz and others involved in the case.
The money laundering case, filed in November 2020 during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government’s term, accused Shehbaz Sharif and his two sons, Hamza and Suleman, of corruption and money laundering amounting to approximately Rs16.3 billion between 2008 and 2018. Shehbaz and Hamza were acquitted from the case in October 2022.
Speaking to the media after the hearing, Suleman Shehbaz expressed his frustration with the prolonged case, stating that false cases had been lodged against him and no substantial work had been done during the past five years. He criticized the previous government, alleging that fabricated cases were pursued without any significant progress.
The acquittal of Suleman Shehbaz and others marks a significant development in this high-profile money laundering case, bringing relief to the accused after years of legal proceedings.