LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s disgruntled leader Jehangir Tareen, who is currently in the United Kingdom (UK) and was summoned by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) over the sugar scam investigation, submitted a ‘short reply’ on Saturday, seeking more time to respond to the FIA’s queries.
In his reply, Mr Tareen said he is in the United Kingdom and undergoing medical treatment, pledging that once he got well he would return to the country to appear before the FIA in person.
He said he needed more time to file a reply to the FIA’s questions related to his businesses, assets and sugar mills.
The FIA Lahore’s combined investigation team is probing into the sugar scam. It had also summoned Mr Tareen’s son Ali, who is the owner of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise `Multan Sultan’, on Friday last to record his statement.
Mr Ali informed the FIA through his lawyer that he was in London and needed time to submit a reply to its queries.
Facing probe in sugar scam case, PTI leader seeks time to respond to questions
The FIA has sought details of Mr Tareen’s assets here and abroad, his bank transactions, especially transfer of money abroad, bank accounts of his family members and his employees and sugar-related transactions of his firm JDW.
A source close to Mr Tareen told Dawn that the FIA had been activated against Mr Tareen by a powerful adviser to the prime minister and a bureaucrat following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent television interview in which he had talked about his (Tareen’s) services for the party and his close association with Mr Khan. The PM had expressed the hope that Mr Tareen would come clean of the charges he was facing (in the scam).
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“The groups against Mr Tareen — both in the PTI and bureaucracy — are making it sure not to let him off the hook. They believe this will give political mileage to the PTI if one of its own stalwarts gets fixed by ‘honest’ Imran regime,” he said.
However, some in the party are of the view that Mr Tareen had been allowed to leave the country till investigation into the sugar scandal is complete and once the dust settles and a new situation arises on the political map of the country, he will be given green signal for return to the country.
Earlier, Mr Tareen had described the sugar scam as a “frivolous” case. “What is the link between some old transactions (of my company) and the current sugar price increase?” he had asked, saying there were more than 80 sugar mills in the country but only his mills were being targeted.
On the sugar scam, the inquiry committee, headed by FIA director general Wajid Zia, had prepared a report in April last. It had probed into the increase in the sugar prices and the subsidy obtained by sugar barons during the last year in particular and past four years in general.
The report revealed that two main groups had obtained maximum benefit during the crisis, one of these being JDW that had six sugar mills. As per the report, the JDW obtained 12.28 per cent of the total export subsidy amounting to Rs3.058 billion during 2015-18.
The report said that during 2018-19, Mr Tareen’s companies exported 17.24pc of the total sugar production and availed 22.71pc of total export subsidy, amounting to Rs561 million.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Accountability Shehzad Akbar had said the JDW sugar mills had committed “double booking, under-reporting and over-invoicing”.
“The report noted that the mills (JDW) under-invoiced sales from bagasse and molasses which resulted in 25pc cost inflation. They also committed corporate fraud whereby money was transferred from their PLC to their private company. Forward sales, satta, unnamed sales have all been associated with JDW too,” Mr Akbar said.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2020