LAHORE  -    A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday extended until May 27 the interim bail of PML-N lawmaker and Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz in the Ramzan Sugar Mills, Saaf Pani and assets-beyond-means cases.

Headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, the bench heard pre- arrest bail petitions filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader in the cases.

During the hearing, Hamza Shahbaz along with his lawyers as well as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecution team appeared before the bench. He is being probed for having assets beyond means, and alleged corruption in Ramzan Sugar Mills and the Punjab Saaf Pani Company.

The petitioner’s counsel in response to a court query replied that reasons for initiating inquiry were not being provided.

The NAB officials said that that the PML-N leader got illegal assets and also received amounts through benamidar accounts from abroad. He argued that the NAB chairman issued warrants for Hamza’s arrest on solid reasons.

The NAB prosecutor informed the court that the petitioner had sought a report by the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) that was classified document. He submitted that such documents could not be handed over to the petitioner while other documents had already been provided for him.

On the other side, the petitioner’s counsel said that the documents were important for defence in the case. He requested the court for provision of the said documents.

Meanwhile, the NAB prosecutor informed the court that Hamza, his brother Salman and father Shahbaz Sharif owned assets beyond their known sources of income. The accountability watchdog said that Salman’s frontmen were involved in money laundering through bank accounts that belong to some employees of Salman.

The NAB official added that then manager of Ramzan Sugar Mills Mushtaq alias Chini had been offloaded from a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight and arrested last month. The arrested man, the NAB said, had disclosed that Salman used bank accounts opened in his employees’ names. The bureau official also alleged that that Hamza benefited from the money laundering.

The NAB official then submitted reports of the Financial Monitoring Unit to the court, stating that those reports could not be publicised. He submitted Financial Monitoring Unit was an independent institution and as per its rules, there was three years punishment on making the information public.

After hearing arguments of both the parties, the bench adjourned the hearing and extended the interim bail of Hamza Shahbaz until May 27.