Britain-based newspaper exposes Shehbaz’s Sharif embezzlement in aid for earthquake victims
ISLAMABAD: Britain-based newspaper ‘Daily Mail’ has exposed an alleged money laundering scandal of Opposition Leader in National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif from the UK government aid for earthquake victims in Pakistan.
According to a confidential investigation report by ‘Daily Mail’, millions of pounds were transferred into the bank accounts of Shehbaz’s wife, two sons and two daughters.
Britain’s Department for International Development (DIFD) had given Sharif and his government taxpayers’ cash, the report claimed.
The report revealed, “After winning election on a pledge to combat corruption, Imran Khan set up a special team to deal with it, the Asset Recovery Unit, headed by a UK-educated barrister. They have examined a series of suspicious transactions running to many millions and shown that Shehbaz’s family’s assets grew enormously during the years he was in power,” the report stated.
The report further revealed that in 2003 the Sharif family was worth just £ 150,000, but by 2018 their total assets had grown to about £ 200 million, adding, “Shehbaz owns a 53,000 sq ft palace in Lahore with its own big safety force, among other properties.”
DFID said it was ‘well aware’ about Pakistan being ‘corrupt environment’. Since 2014, however, DFID has provided Pakistan with more aid than any other country – up to £ 463 million a year.
The report said, the money was channelled from abroad – via several elaborate money-laundering schemes, in which Britain played a central role.
It also added that Shehbaz “was the primary beneficiary of this money laundering business by spending, acquiring land, and developing into palatial houses where he lived.”
The Mail further revealed that Shehbaz’s son-in-law received about £ 1million from a fund set up to rebuild the lives of earthquake victims, according to the documents in his possession – to which DFID gave £ 54million from UK taxpayers.
“Investigators have launched inquiries into alleged thefts from DFID-funded schemes to give poor women cash to lift them out of poverty and to provide healthcare for rural families,” the report said.
Stolen millions were laundered in Birmingham and then allegedly transferred to Shehbaz’s family accounts by UK branches of banks including Barclays and HSBC, it added.
The publication stated that Britain’s National Crime Agency was working closely with Pakistani investigators and Home Secretary Sajid Javid was discussing the possible extradition of members of Shehbaz’s family who have taken refuge in London.
Shehbaz’s son Suleman has denied the allegations against him and his family and said they were the product of a ‘political witch-hunt’ ordered by PM Imran.
“No allegation has been proven. There is no evidence of kickbacks,” he said.