Pakistan Court Bars FIA From Arresting PM Shehbaz Sharif’s Son In Money Laundering Case

Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif’s son Suleman Shehbaz has been in London with his family since 2018, when the National Accountability Bureau accused him of money laundering.

Photograph of Shehbaz Sharif from the interview

A top court in Pakistan on Thursday barred the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from arresting Suleman Shehbaz, the son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in a money laundering case when he is expected to return to the country on Sunday after four years of self-exile in London.

During the hearing of Suleman's plea for protective bail in a money laundering case, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) also asked him to surrender before it by December 13.

Suleman has been in London with his family since 2018, when the National Accountability Bureau accused him of money laundering.

He had filed a plea before the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday, seeking protective bail that would enable him to surrender before a trial court.

During the proceedings, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq issued directives for the applicant, asking him to surrender before the court by Dec 13 and barred the FIA from arresting him until then.

Justice Farooq said it was necessary for an applicant to be present in the court while seeking protective bail, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Suleman's lawyer told the court that his client was returning to Islamabad via Saudi Arabia on Sunday (December 11). “He wants to appear before the relevant authorities,” he said.

Following the arguments, the court approved the protective bail and directed him to appear before it by December 13.

The prime minister's son is currently in Saudi Arabia — to perform Umrah — on his way to Pakistan. 

The FIA had booked Shehbaz Sharif and his sons Hamza and Suleman in November 2020 under various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act and of Anti Money Laundering Act.

Arrest warrants had been issued for Suleman. However, in its report submitted to the court, the FIA had stated that the warrants could not be executed since Suleman was not present at his address and had gone abroad.

A trial court had also declared him a proclaimed offender, along with another suspect in a Rs16 billion money laundering case, in July this year.

According to the FIA report, the investigation team “detected 28 benami accounts of the Shehbaz family through which money laundering of Rs 16.3 billion was committed from 2008-18. The FIA examined a money trail of 17,000 credit transactions.”

The report added that the amount was kept in “hidden accounts” and “given to Shehbaz in a personal capacity”.

In a statement reported by Dawn, Suleman said he was forced to leave Pakistan for the sake of his safety after “fake and manipulated cases” were registered against him and his family in order to “facilitate a new political order”.