Lahore, Jun 11: Opposition leader in Pakistan's Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz was arrested Tuesday inside the Lahore High Court by the officials of the country's anti-graft body in cases related to money laundering and holding assets beyond means, according to a media report.
The arrest took place after a two-member Lahore High Court (LHC) bench dismissed bail applications filed by Hamza after his lawyer opted to withdraw the pleas in two corruption cases.
Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) vice president is under investigation by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Ramzan Sugar Mills, Saaf Paani project and assets beyond known means of income cases.
Hamza, the son of PML-N president and National Assembly opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif, told reporters prior to his arrest that not even a "one rupee" corruption could be proven against him.
"I will quit politics if it is proven that I was involved in corrupt practices," he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
A large number of PML-N workers blocked Lahore's Mall road and protested against the move. A scuffle between police and party supporters also broke out outside the court. His arrest comes a day after former president Asif Ali Zardari was arrested by NAB in Islamabad.
On April 5, the accountability watchdog had failed in its bid to arrest Hamza — in a case of money laundering and owning assets beyond means — as it faced strong resistance from the Sharif family's security men as well as PML-N supporters. NAB has found evidence of money laundering on a massive scale through which Shehbaz and his family accumulated assets in the UK.
According to sources privy to NAB's investigation, the illegally accumulated assets are worth Rs 85 billion to Rs 100 billion and were bought during Shebaz's tenure as the Punjab Chief Minister.
In the Ramzan Sugar Mills corruption case, Shehbaz and his son Hamza are accused of "fraudulently and dishonestly" causing a Rs 213 million loss to the national exchequer.
Shehbaz was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau in October 2018 and released on bail on February 14. His brother and three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been serving a seven-year prison term at Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore since December 24, 2018 when an accountability court convicted him in one of the three corruption cases filed in the wake of the apex court's July 28, 2017 order in Panama Papers case.
Both Sharif and his daughter Maryam have been sentenced to seven years in prison, respectively. Maryam's husband Muhammad Safdar was jailed for one year in the same case. Sharif and his family have denied any wrongdoing and allege that the corruption cases against them are politically motivated.