UK court orders frozen bank accounts of Shahbaz Sharif, family to be restored

LONDON: A UK court has ordered the unfreezing of PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif and his family’s bank accounts after UK authorities were unable to find evidence of corruption, money laundering or criminal activities against them.

The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) restored the frozen bank accounts of former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and those of his son, Suleman Sharif, on Monday.

The NCA submitted the investigation report of the bank accounts at the Westminster court in which it declared that the PML-N president and his family were not guilty of money laundering and corruption.

The report said that Shahbaz and his son were not involved in money laundering practices in Pakistan, Dubai and the UK. The NCA’s report said 20-year-old bank accounts of Shahbaz Sharif in Pakistan, UAE and the UK were traced but no evidence of corruption, money laundering or criminal activities were found.

The NCA had requested the UK court for an extension when it first began probing the case, stating that it needed more time to complete the probe against Shahbaz in multiple countries.

The agency then wrote a letter to Shahbaz Sharif, calling upon the PML-N leader to share details of his accounts with them otherwise, they would legally scrutinise the accounts by obtaining a production order.

The NCA had initiated a probe against Shahbaz Sharif and his family at the government of Pakistan’s request. Their bank accounts were frozen in December 2019 by a court order.

The government’s Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) had written a letter to the UK government on December 11, 2019 in which it had levelled serious corruption allegations against Suleman Shahbaz and Shahbaz Sharif.

In the letter, the ARU said that Shahbaz and his son were involved in multiple cases in Pakistan that related to money laundering and corruption, adding that both were involved in “double criminalities”.

As per the principle of double criminality, the ARU has alleged that both persons laundered stolen money from Pakistan in the UK and then transferred the same wealth back from the UK to Pakistan.

The British court has said in its ruling that since the allegations could not be proven against Shahbaz and Sulemn, it has said the earlier freezing orders aside.