ISLAMABAD: In a bid to tighten the noose around sugar barons involved in the sugar scam, notices will be served on them after Eidul Azha.
Among those who will get notices are PTI leader Jehangir Tareen, opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari.
According to a source in the know of the recent developments in the sugar scam investigation, all departments concerned will take action against the sugar barons as directed by the government.
“In the first phase, notices will be served on mill owners involved in the scam, including Jehangir Tareen, who left the country just before the forensic audit report in the sugar crisis was released by the inquiry commission,” the source said.
The main objective of issuing notices was to summon them (mill owners) so that their statements could be recorded before the relevant authorities, the source said, adding that if Mr Tareen did not respond and return to the country to face the probe, other available options would be applied to bring him back.
Action against millers to be taken in light of investigations into scam
“Notice will not only be issued to Mr Tareen but also to his family members who are partners in his business,” the source added.
Departments that will be taking action against the sugar mill owners include National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) and all provincial anti-corruption departments.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed them to crack down on sugar barons and submit their reports in the next 90 days.
The source said the relevant departments had also started forming teams to conduct investigations into the scam, adding that the FIA had formed an 11-member team for this purpose. The team will probe how sugar was smuggled to Afghanistan and money allegedly laundered by the mill owners.
After seeking consent of Prime Minister Khan, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar wrote letters to SBP, CCP as well as chief secretaries of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, asking them to act against the sugar barons in light of the forensic audit report.
The recently issued sugar inquiry commission report was also annexed to the letters.
A letter was also sent to NAB for fixing responsibility on sugar barons and analysing various aspects of subsidies given to them against the law.
“NAB will also deal with all public office-holders involved in the scam, including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who is accused of giving Rs20 billion export subsidy to the mill owners,” the source said.
He allowed export after several months when sugar prices had declined internationally, thus giving subsidy to the mill owners, the source said, adding that Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar will also be probed for giving Rs2 billion subsidy to the mill owners last year.
The FBR was directed to conduct an audit of all sugar mills to investigate matters related to benami accounts, dubious transactions and tax evasion.
On June 23, the federal cabinet consented to an action plan on the basis of the sugar inquiry commission report.
Letters have also been sent to chief secretaries of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, asking them to initiate action.
The SBP governor was asked to investigate loans given to sugar mills and submit a comprehensive report while the FIA and SECP were tasked to probe corporate fraud and the export issue of sugar mills.
The departments concerned would probe the loans given on interest and short payments to sugarcane growers despite receiving hefty subsidies from the government while the provincial anti-corruption departments would initiate investigations against sugar mills, the letters said.
Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2020