PML-N rejects Daily Mail report against Shehbaz, calls it ‘baseless’


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14 Jul, 2019 5:32 pm

LAHORE (92 News) – Responding to media report of ‘The Mail’ claiming Shehbaz Sharif allegedly laundered Britain’s aid worth millions of pounds reserved for the rehabilitation of earthquake victims, the PML-N rejected claims that Shehbaz Sharif, family embezzled millions given to Pakistan by the UK in aid.

Addressing a press conference, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb termed the report – an article published in UK’s media – baseless and a propaganda campaign.

She said the story was ‘planted’ in a tabloid paper. She said the paper was unreliable. She also mentioned that DFID rebutted the report. “Bring us these records, she demanded. Show the country proof of your claims,” she added.

She said that the PML-N would sue the publication over the planted, unsubstantiated story. “The news was published through a controversial journalist [who works for a] UK newspaper and is based in Lahore on Imran’s behest,” claimed the PML-N spokesperson.

She asked why the Daily Mail wasn’t reporting on the PTI’s 18 fake accounts.

In a series of Tweets posted via the PML-N’s official Twitter account, she pointed out that the article does not mention any UK government document, while also questioning the credibility of the publication and the writer.

“Conspiratorial point of views and allegations have been published […] news report does not mention any report by the UK government. It is fabricated, baseless and a pack of lies that has been invented by Imran Khan’s conspiratorial mind,” said Aurangzeb.

Earlier, former Punjab chief minister and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif allegedly laundered Britain’s aid worth millions of pounds reserved for the rehabilitation of earthquake victims, claims UK’s newspaper in its article.

Up to £500million of UK foreign aid has been poured into his province of Punjab, but, investigators claim, his family was laundering some of the money in Britain, said The Mail on Sunday (daily Mail) in its investigative report.

Some of the amount was stolen and was transferred to Birmingham and then was further transferred to the bank accounts of Shehbaz’s family in a suspicious way.

The UK government has decided to investigate the aid amount.

The report written by David Rose reveals how the aid money was misused to the benefit of Shehbaz and family?

The report says Shahbaz Sharif visited Downing Street when David Cameron was Prime Minister, has held talks with successive international development secretaries – Andrew Mitchell, Justine Greening and Penny Mordaunt – and hosted Boris Johnson when he was Foreign Secretary.

Last year he was guest of honour at a party to celebrate the Queen’s birthday at the British High Commission in Lahore, photographed toasting Her Majesty with mango juice.

Yet, say investigators, all the time that DFID was heaping him and his government with praise and taxpayers’ cash, Shahbaz and his family were embezzling tens of millions of pounds of public money and laundering it in Britain.

They are convinced that some of the allegedly stolen money came from DFID-funded aid projects.

Last night, Shahbaz’s son Suleman denied the allegations against him and his family, saying they were the product of a ‘political witch-hunt’ ordered by Pakistan’s new prime minister, the former cricketer Imran Khan. ‘No allegation has been proven. There is no evidence of kickbacks,’ he said.

According to the watchdog Transparency International, Pakistan comes just 117th in the world integrity index and ‘corruption is a major obstacle’ there. DFID admits it is ‘well aware’ that Pakistan is a ‘corrupt environment’. However, since 2014, DFID has given more aid to Pakistan than any other country – up to £463 million a year.

Last week, The Mail on Sunday – which has campaigned against Britain’s policy of spending 0.7 per cent of national income, currently about £14 billion a year, on foreign aid – was given exclusive access to some of the results of a high-level probe ordered by Khan, who won elections last year. We were also able to interview key witnesses held on remand in jail, including a UK citizen Aftab Mehmood.

He claims he laundered millions on behalf of Shahbaz’s family from a nondescript office in Birmingham – without attracting suspicion from Britain’s financial regulators, who inspected his books regularly.

Last year, this newspaper disclosed the case against Pakistan’s former prime minister, Shahbaz’s brother Nawaz Sharif, who had built up a London property empire worth £32 million.

Convicted of corruption, he is now serving a seven-year jail sentence. But according to Pakistani investigators, the wealth accrued by Shahbaz and his family is still greater.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal:

  • Legal documents allege that Shahbaz’s son-in-law received about £1 million from a fund established to rebuild the lives of earthquake victims – to which DFID gave £54 million 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;
  • Stolen millions were laundered in Birmingham and then allegedly transferred to Shahbaz’s family’s accounts by UK branches of banks including Barclays and HSBC;
  • Self-confessed Birmingham money-launderer Aftab Mehmood told the MoS that he had his accounts audited every three months by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – who failed to notice anything was amiss;
  • Britain’s National Crime Agency is working closely with Pakistani investigators and Home Secretary Sajid Javid is discussing the possible extradition of members of Shahbaz’s family who have taken refuge in London;
  • Aware of how widespread corruption is in Pakistan, DFID has been running a £1.75 million project designed to ‘reduce the exposure to fraud and corruption’ of UK aid. But although it says it is already vigilant, DFID admits that, to date, it has referred just one individual to the Pakistani authorities for trying to steal UK funds.

 


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