The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday granted bail to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif in a money laundering reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Last week, the court had approved Shehbaz’s bail against surety bonds of Rs5 million each, but the matter was again forwarded to the Lahore High Court Chief Justice Qasim Khan after the bench came up with a split decision. Later, the CJ had formed a new three-member bench to hear the bail petition of Shehbaz Sharif. The three-judge bench, headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, gave a unanimous verdict. According to the short court order, the PML-N leader is required to furnish two bail bonds worth Rs5 million each. Shehbaz’s counsel Azam Nazeer Tarar said the surety would be submitted on Friday as the court office hours had ended on Thursday. He said Shehbaz would be released from jail on Friday. During the hearing, the NAB prosecutor argued that Shehbaz’s family members were also nominated in the money laundering reference and that several summonses had been issued to them but they did not join the investigation apart from Hamza Shehbaz. “When Shehbaz Sharif became a public office holder in 1990, his family’s assets were Rs2.1m,” said the NAB lawyer, adding that they had swelled and exceeded Rs7.32 billion by 2018. He said Shehbaz and his family started building properties after 2005 and illegal assets were made in Nishat Lodges in Donga Gali. He proceeded to list down various other properties and assets held by Shehbaz’s family members. “Thirteen industrial units were constructed at a cost of Rs2.7bn,” he said, adding that benami companies were also set up with an investment of Rs 2 billion. “Is Shehbaz Sharif also among the shareholders of the companies?” questioned Justice Najafi to which he was told that the PML-N president was not but his family members were. Shehbaz’s legal counsel argued that the case before the court was of the bail petition yet NAB was informing the court about the assets of the co-accused in the case. “People around Shehbaz Sharif used to send money to him [and] that money was the money of TTs (telegraphic transfers),” NAB lawyer Usman G Rashid Cheema said, adding that they had also been used to pay import duties of a car from abroad. The court was told that the highest number of TTs (155) had been sent to the account of Salman Shehbaz and he did not disclose their source despite repeated notices sent to him. The court questioned what had been his age at the time and was told it was 23. “Did NAB investigate the TTs which came? Did NAB find out the source of TTs?” the bench questioned. Justice Najafi further asked, “If sacks upon sacks of money were coming into Model Town, then what was their source and where were they coming from?” “The entire NAB reference does not say where the money came from,” said Shehbaz’s lawyer. The court wondered how NAB could say it was a case of assets beyond means when there was no allegation of abuse of power and authority on Shehbaz, and asked NAB how it would prove that Shehbaz’s family members were his benamidar. “The benamidar had no income source and that is why NAB declared them benamidar,” the NAB lawyer said.