A special court in Lahore on Saturday summoned Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz on September 7 for the framing of charges in a Rs16 billion money laundering case registered against them by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had booked Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman in November 2021 under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of the Anti Money Laundering Act. Suleman Shehbaz is absconding in the UK. During the hearing on Saturday, property details of Suleman, who was declared a proclaimed offender in the multi-billion-rupee money laundering case, were submitted in the court. Shehbaz and Hamza’s lawyers submitted requests for a one-time exemption on their behalf. Shehbaz’s lawyer Amjad Pervaiz informed the court that the premier had been advised against travelling as he was not well. “The weather was unpleasant yesterday which is why he did not come today.” Meanwhile, Hamza’s lawyer Rao Aurangzeb said the PML-N leader had severe back pain and he had attached the medical report with the exemption request. FIA Prosecutor Farooq Bajwa said the agency did not have any objections to accepting the exemption applications. The FIA also submitted the death certificate of Malik Maqsood – frequently referred to as Maqsood ‘Chaprasi’ – a central figure in the case. Bajwa said the agency was submitting the certificate after verification from the National Database and Registration Authority thatMaqsood had died. The court then stopped case proceedings against the deceased. Separately, the FIA prosecutor informed the court that the agency had obtained the record of 19 bank accounts of Suleman Shehbaz, while the record of another seven was yet to be obtained. “We have written to some agencies and their replies are awaited,” he added. “We have submitted details of Suleman’s properties that we have obtained so far.” Subsequently, the court summoned Shehbaz and Hamza on Sept 7 for the framing of charges and adjourned the hearing till that date. In December 2021, the FIA had submitted the challan against Shehbaz and Hamza before the special court for their alleged involvement in laundering an amount of Rs16 billion in the sugar scam case. According to the FIA report submitted to the court, the investigation team has “detected 28 benami accounts of the Shehbaz family through which money laundering of Rs16.3bn was committed during 2008-18. The FIA examined the 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”. This amount (Rs16 billion) has nothing to do with the sugar business (of Shehbaz family), it claimed. The money received from the accounts of low-wage employees by Shehbaz was transferred outside Pakistan via hundi/hawala networks, ultimately destined for the beneficial use of his family members, the FIA had alleged. “Eleven low-paid employees of the Sharif group who ‘held and possessed’ the laundered proceeds on behalf of the principal accused, are found guilty of facilitating money laundering. The three other co-accused of the Sharif group also actively facilitated the money laundering,” the agency had said.