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FIA grills property tycoon Malik Riaz

June 22, 2013

ISLAMABAD, June 21: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday grilled the property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain in sponsored Haj case.

The Ministry of Interior had offered the Haj facility to 427 politicians, journalists and employees of Bahira Town in 2009 and 2010, but the payment from the sponsors was received after months’ delay.

Qasier Qadeer Qureshi, legal adviser to Bahria Town, confirmed that the property tycoon was quizzed by the FIA officials.

According to him, Malik Riaz informed the FIA investigators that he had cleared all the dues for the sponsored Haj.

Sources in the FIA told Dawn that Malik Riaz maintained before the FIA team that since he was unaware of the payment hence the delay.

The sources alleged that Malik Riaz made payment after Supreme Court took cognizance of the matter.

The issue of sponsored Haj was taken up by the Supreme Court in 2011 during the hearing of suo motu notice case related to the corruption of Haj arrangements.

On the directions of the Supreme Court the FIA in 2011 had also recorded the statement of those who availed the ‘free’ Haj facility.

The Religious Affairs Ministry had demanded outstanding bills worth millions from the interior ministry.

Former Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi when contacted said that the Interior Ministry and its sponsors had arranged travelling of the sponsored pilgrims from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia and back.

But the Religious Affairs Ministry provided them accommodation and local transport during their stay in KSA on the request of then Minister for Interior Rehman Malik.

Later, it had demanded from the Interior Ministry the standard charges for the facilities it provided to the government sponsored pilgrims, he added.

A senior FIA official on condition of anonymity said that the property tycoon and a former deputy speaker of National Assembly sponsored the Haj for the politicians and the journalists but did not pay the required amount either to the Ministry of Interior who had invited them or to the Ministry of Religious Affairs who provided accommodation to these pilgrims.

He said that after the statement of Malik Riaz, the FIA summoned the authorities of Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Religious Affairs to decide the fate of tycoon.

He explained that the accommodation provided to the 427 private persons including 32 employees of Bahria Town were arranged from the amount which the pilgrims had deposited with the national exchequer for performing Haj and misuse of the said amount was an offence.

Malik Riaz did not voluntarily return the amount to the government but FIA recovered from him the required payment, he added.

“In the light of the statements of the officials concerned of Interior Ministry and Religious Affairs Ministry, the investigators would determine whether any crime would be made out against the tycoon or not” the official maintained.