The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has unfrozen bank accounts belonging to former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Suleman Sharif, due to a lack of any evidence of corruption and money laundering.
Reports indicated that the NCA launched its 17-month investigation at the behest of the Pakistani government’s Asset Recovery Unit (ARU). In a letter written to the NCA in December 2019, the ARU had cited corruption allegations against Shehbaz Sharif and his son Suleman Sharif. Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the ARU had claimed that Shehbaz Sharif and his son were involved in “double criminality” and money laundering of more than Rs35 billion.
Upon conclusion of its probe, the NCA submitted its investigation report of the bank accounts at the Westminster court, which found that the former Punjab chief minister and his son were not involved in money laundering practices in Pakistan, Dubai or the UK.
For his part, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar has said that reports claiming a British court had acquitted Shehbaz Sharif and his son were inaccurate. In his version, neither the ARU nor NAB had requested the that British authorities launch this probe. Instead, Akbar stated that British authorities began their probe due to a “suspicious transaction” reported to the NCA by a bank.
“It is clarified that such a release order is not an acknowledgement that funds are from a legitimate source,” tweeted Akbar. Furthermore, he added that the former chief minister’s son Suleman “remains a fugitive in a money laundering case against him and his father before the AC Lahore.”
PML-N leaders, however, took to Twitter to celebrate what they saw as a vindication of their party’s stance that Shehbaz Sharif was not guilty of corruption. Shehbaz Sharif tweeted:
“Today’s decision by UK court is not just my or Nawaz Sharif’s vindication but that of Pakistan too. Certainly truth has greater power than all the lies, fabricated stories & character assassination!”