Thursday, February 25, 2021

Money Laundering: Shehbaz Sharif did not win the case, clarifies David Rose

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British journalist David Rose who wrote an investigative piece on Shehbaz Sharif has responded on Friday to the reporting over the London court’s hearing earlier today that it is not the final verdict as the trial has yet to begin.

Via his Twitter handle, the Daily Mail journalist tweeted, saying, “It seems some in Pakistan are claiming that the London judge in today’s hearing in the Shehbaz Sharif case has said our evidence is not “up to the mark.”

“This is untrue,” he said.

Adding further, he said the Judge made no such comment. “Today’s hearing is not a victory for anyone. It was strictly preliminary.”

In his earlier tweet on the same development, Rose said the judgment “sets the parameters for the eventual trial, which lies in the future”.

Separately, the Prime Minister’s aide on accountability Shahzad Akbar said on the development, while talking to a private TV channel, that today’s hearing was in no way to be misconstrued for a victory for Shehbaz Sharif, adding that Daily Mail will likely furnish the evidence to support the money laundering story it published in Punjab’s former chief’s case.

Read more: Money Laundering, Suo Motus and Zardari

It is quite easy for Daily Mail to prove Shehbaz Sharif laundered money, he said.

Did Shehbaz Sharif steal money?

According to a confidential investigation report seen by the Daily Mail, millions of pounds were transferred into the bank accounts of Shehbaz’s family members, including his wife, children and a son-in-law. It states to have interviewed key witnesses held on remand in jail, including a UK citizen, Aftab Mehmood, who claims that he had laundered millions on behalf of Shahbaz’s family from a nondescript office in Birmingham – without attracting suspicion from Britain’s financial regulators, who inspected his books regularly.

According to Daily Mail, investigators are convinced that some of the allegedly stolen money came from the Department for International Development (DFID)-funded aid projects. For rehabilitating and rebuilding lives of the poor, the DFID gave £54 million from UK taxpayers; and the legal documents allege that Shehbaz’s son-in-law received about £1 million from that fund.

As per claims by the Daily Mail, Britain’s National Crime Agency has been working closely with Pakistani investigators and Home Secretary Sajid Javid discussing the possible extradition of members of Shehbaz’s family, who have taken refuge in London.

A confidential investigation report, seen by Daily Mail, says the family was worth just £150,000 in 2003 but by 2018 their total assets had grown to around £200 million. Among other properties, Shehbaz owns a 53,000 sq ft palace in Lahore, which has its own large security force. The money, the report says, was channeled from abroad – via several elaborate money-laundering schemes, in which Britain played a central role.

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