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Detailed order on bail confirmation: No witness accused Shehbaz, Hamza of corruption: court – Newspaper

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LAHORE: The judge of a special court (Central-I) on Monday observed that none of the prosecution witnesses levelled allegations of bribe, kickbacks or corrupt practices against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz in the Rs16 billion money laundering case instituted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

“Prima facie, allegations of gratification, corrupt practice, abuse of authority, kickbacks and [receiving] commission require further probe during trial as at this stage cogent evidence is not available,” judge Ijaz Hassan Awan observed in his detailed order on confirmation of pre-arrest bails of Mr Shehbaz, Mr Hamza and other suspects in the case.

The judge had on June 11 allowed the petitions of the suspects and confirmed their pre-arrest bails subject to furnishing of bonds.

In his 22-page written order, the judge notes that the FIA registered the FIR on Nov 14, 2020, but did not submit any interim challan till Dec 12, 2021.

He says the main suspects — Shehbaz and Hamza — were included in investigation when they were already in jail in connection with a reference of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), but their arrests were affected in the FIA’s case.

“There has been a complete silence on part of the FIA for a period of about five months since the investigation team visited the Central Jail,” the judge adds.

The judge observes that the FIA issued call-up notices to the suspects after they were released on bail in the NAB reference by the Lahore High Court.

He states that this prima facie shows that the prosecution wanted another arrest of the petitioners (Shehbaz and Hamza) but after their release on bail in the accountability reference.

“Prima facie this shows mala fide on the part of the FIA,” the judge maintains.

The judge observes that in the FIR, it has been alleged that a politician gave a cheque worth Rs14 million personally to Mr Shehbaz in lieu of party (PML-N) ticket.

However, he says, neither the name of the said politician has been mentioned in the FIR, nor any documentary evidence in support of the allegations is available on the record.

The judge notes that the FIR claims that the politician failed to make any statement in writing and no politician has been made witness in the case.

The judge also observes that initially the figure of Rs25 billion was mentioned in the FIR as alleged amount of money laundering, but later it was reduced to Rs16bn after deleting some bank accounts, earlier mentioned in the FIR.

The judge states that the FIR claims that Mushtaq Cheeniwala, a co-suspect, provided secret ledgers to the agency as a proof to show that money from undisclosed sale of sugar was deposited into the disputed bank accounts.

However, the judge says, the alleged secret ledgers have not been made part of the investigation.

About the statements of 66 persons, whose cheques were deposited in the disputed accounts, the judge observes that none of the said witnesses directly made any statement against Shehbaz and Hamza about the deposit and withdrawal of the amounts in question.

He says the challan shows that 100 depositors joined the investigation, whereas statements of 64 were recorded and that too were related to an amount of Rs670m against the claim of the case amount of Rs16bn.

The judge holds that none of the depositors nominated Shehbaz in their statements recorded under section 161 of CrPC.

“Moreover, the said statements do not spell out any bribe, kickbacks or commission etc,” the judge adds.

He maintains that the statements made before the FIA investigators are not admissible evidence and cannot be used against the suspects.

The judge observes that the prosecution could not collect any document showing any share, nexus, of PM Shehbaz with the management of Ramzan Sugar Mills as he is neither a shareholder or a director of the mills.

As far as Hamza is concerned, the judge says, although he is chief executive officer of the sugar mills but prima facie the prosecution has failed to produce any evidence showing that the disputed bank accounts were opened and operated on his instruction.

The judge observes that there is no allegation against the petitioners about the misuse of the concession of pre-arrest bail as they regularly appeared before the court except two or three occasions due to Covid-19 and official engagement.

The judge also notes that both Shehbaz and Hamza are already facing same charges for the same period from 2008 to 2018 in the NAB reference pending before a trial court.

The judge explains that as per the letter and spirit of sections 3, 7, 4 of the Anti Money Laundering Act 2010, mischief of money laundering may attract only when money involves proceeds of crime.

He says a necessary element of the offence of money laundering is commission of a predicate offence.

“The execution of this offence gives birth to the proceeds of crime, the movement of which attracts the criminal misconduct of money laundering, therefore, without the commission of predicate offence there can be no offence of money laundering,” the judge observes, relying on a Supreme Court judgement.

The judge says the investigating officer did not record any police diary till to date, suggesting that arrest of the petitioners is required by him for further investigation.

Other co-suspects whose pre-arrest bails have also been confirmed, include Muhammad Aslam, Azhar Abbas, Khizar Hayat, Iqrar Hussain, Muhammad Anwar, Muhammad Yaseen, Touqiruddin, Zafar Iqbal Anjum, Tanvirul Haq, Kashif Majeed, Masroor Anwar, Muhammad Usman, Zahid Ali and Aurangzeb Butt.

The order clarifies that the observations made for the grant of bail are only tentative in nature and would have no effect on the merits of the trial.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2022


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Hundreds of stolen cars recovered in global Interpol operation funded by the UAE

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A United Arab Emirates-funded global police operation targeting stolen vehicle trafficking has led to the recovery of hundreds of cars, trucks and motorbikes and almost half a million stolen cigarettes in just two weeks, Interpol announced on Wednesday.

Operation Carback saw frontline police at seaports and land border crossings in 77 countries use Interpol’s secure global police communications network – I-24/7 – to check vehicles and their owners against Interpol’s databases and instantaneously detect potential criminals or criminal activity.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Interpol launched its ‘Reducing Vehicle Crime and Theft’ Program in 2016 with funding from the United Arab Emirates via Interpol’s ‘Foundation for a Safer World’, which financed Operation Carback 2022.

Since May 2016, the foundation has been supporting seven key Interpol initiatives by donating $52 million over a period of five years, as part of a contribution agreement between the Foundation and the UAE government.

In just over two weeks, Operation Carback led to the identification of 1,121 stolen cars and 64 motorcycles, the arrest or detention of 222 suspected stolen vehicle traffickers, the detention of eight suspected people smugglers, the detection of 26 fraudulent vehicle documents and the seizure of 480,000 stolen cigarettes.

Officers raided chop shops – places where stolen vehicles are dismantled into parts that are smuggled or sold online – with confiscations triggering further investigations into car crime gangs globally.

Interpol supported the operation by crosschecking information collected in the field against its international databases, with Frontex also supporting the European leg of frontline operations.

Experts from Interpol’s Stolen Motor Vehicles Unit were deployed to key locations to assist national law enforcement with database checks in the field as well as in exchanging, analyzing and acting on operational data.

With the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) typically removed from stolen cars, on-the-ground assistance from Interpol enabled national law enforcement to connect with car manufacturers to identify vehicle origin.

Because stolen vehicles are frequently trafficked to finance and carry out crime ranging from drug trafficking, arms dealing and people smuggling to corruption and international terrorism, the Interpol General Secretariat headquarters is analyzing intelligence gathered during Operation Carback to identify links with other crime areas.

“With vehicles usually smuggled beyond borders and ending up thousands of miles away from where they were stolen, an international operation like Carback is crucial to enabling police to tackle the networks behind global car trafficking,” said Ilana de Wild, Interpol’s director of organized and emerging Crime.

“The main key to the success of Operation Carback is the wealth of information contained in Interpol’s Stolen Motor Vehicle database, and the fact that throughout the operation police in the field were able to access this crucial data.”

Last year, Interpol identified some 248,000 stolen vehicles thanks to the SMV database. More than 130 countries shared their national data with Interpol, and carried out more than 280 million searches.

The UAE has close links with Interpol and in November it was announced that the country’s Major General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, of the UAE’s interior ministry, had been elected as the new President of Interpol.

The senior police official will serve the four-year term in Lyon, France.

The new appointment makes him the first candidate from the Middle Eastern region to be elected into the position since the global crime fighting agency was founded in the 1920s.

Read more:

UAE Major General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi elected as new Interpol President

UAE joins Interpol operation to crack down on human trafficking gangs

Dubai Police arrest international drug lord known as ‘The Ghost’


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Albanian Daily News – albaniandailynews.com

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Albanian Daily News  albaniandailynews.com


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S. Korean police drop case alleging defect in Tesla doors – The Hankyoreh

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