'Friend' of Imran Khan's wife faces money laundering investigation

Farhat Shahzadi's assets increased since 2018 'for unknown reasons', Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau says

Farhat Shahzadi, right, with Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi Khan. Photo: @f.khan211 via Instagram

Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau has approved an investigation into the affairs of Farhat Shahzadi, better known as Farah Khan, for money laundering and illegal activities, the anti-corruption body said on Friday.

The inquiry against Ms Shahzadi, allegedly a friend of Bushra Bibi, the wife of Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan, includes "allegations of accumulation of illegal assets beyond known sources of income, money laundering and maintaining various accounts in the name of different businesses" the bureau said in a statement.

Ms Shahzadi accumulated Rs 847 million ($4.5m) in the past three years "which [is] not commensurate with her stated account profile", according to the statement.

"These credits were received in her personal account and withdrawn immediately after credit within a short time period."

NAB said it will launch an investigation into Ms Shahzadi after media reports claimed she had illegally acquired assets.

"While reviewing the income tax returns of Farhat Shahzadi (Alias: Farah Khan), it was allegedly observed that her assets have significantly increased from the year 2018 onwards for unknown reasons."

Ms Shahzadi's various social media profiles say she is a "proud member" of Mr Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. Mr Khan assumed power in 2018.

Ms Shahzadi said she will co-operate with the inquiry.

"We will neither hide nor avoid investigations. We will appear before NAB's inquiry team both in person and through our legal team," she wrote on Twitter.

Last month, Pakistani politician Maryam Nawaz named and shamed Ms Shahzadi at a Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) gathering, for her illegal activities.

“I dare to name Farah, a friend of Bushra Bibi who is involved in receiving millions of rupees in transfers and postings and these are directly connected to BaniGala [residence of Imran Khan],” Ms Nawaz said at the time, according to local reports.

“The mother of all scandals of transfers and postings amounting to Rs6 billion ($32 million) is related to BaniGala. In the coming days, startling evidence will surface. Imran Khan has fears that once he is out of power his 'thefts' will be exposed."

On her Instagram account, Ms Shahzadi is pictured with Ms Bibi, Mr Khan, on what appears to be a private jet, and at the BaniGala residence, often with expensive designer clothes and bags.

Bushra Bibi, 47, is a mother of five. She married Mr Khan a few months before he became Pakistan's 22nd prime minister in August 2018.

Imran Khan was ousted in early April after the PML-N and Pakistan's People's Party allied against him in a no-confidence vote, leading to Shahbaz Sharif, 70, replacing him. with 174 votes out of 342 in parliament.

Updated: May 01, 2022, 11:12 AM