Jehangir Tareen’s reply in sugar scam: FIA notices do not make out any offence

Updated 25 Sep 2020

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In this file photo, PTI leader Jahangir Tareen speaks on Dawn News TV programme News Eye, April 6. — DawnNewsTV/File
In this file photo, PTI leader Jahangir Tareen speaks on Dawn News TV programme News Eye, April 6. — DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s disgruntled leader Jehangir Tareen says none of the queries and concerns raised in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) call-up notices in the sugar scam investigation make out any offence under the schedule of the FIA Act 1974 (against him and his company).

Mr Tareen, who is currently in the United Kingdom (UK), submitted a detailed reply to the FIA on Thursday in response to its queries regarding the sugar scam probe. The FIA had re-summoned him on Thursday to record his statement after he failed to appear on Sept 19.

In his reply, Mr Tareen said: “No offence has ever been committed by his company (JDW) or by me and no proof of any such offence has been brought forth either by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) or the Combined Investigation Team (CIT). In-fact none of the queries and concerns raised in the call-up notices make out any offence under the schedule of the FIA Act, 1974.”

He said the offences as implied in the FIA call-up notices had no nexus with the federal government. “All investment transactions, acquisitions, and payment transactions mentioned in the call-up notices were conducted for a lawful purpose. Neither was any acquisition conducted at an inflated or exorbitant price, nor was there any haphazard investment or payment transaction. In fact, all transactions were financially prudent under the circumstances in which they were carried out. Moreover, all JDW personnel have cooperated with the JIT and CIT at every stage and have provided documentary evidence to establish the transparent, legitimate, and bona fide nature of each transaction.”

Mr Tareen further said no director, shareholder, or other stakeholder had ever been aggrieved, directly or indirectly, by any of the transactions mentioned in the FIA notices. “Therefore, I request the FIA to drop the inquiry against him,” he said.

He said the JDW had generated annual tax revenue for the national exchequer amounting to Rs15bn and was amongst the highest tax payers in the sugar industry as well as other industries.

Tareen said the JIT comprising the officials of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the State Bank of Pakistan and “still not even a single aggrieved party, including a shareholder, director, farmer, banker, or regulatory authority was shown to have been ‘wronged’ by any act or omission by JDW.”

Despite that the high-powered JIT having already conducted its inquiry, Tareen said the CIT (of FIA) was now bringing forward the very same concerns and repetitively asking the same questions, though JDW had already comprehensively responded to every query before the JIT, nevertheless JDW would assist in proving that no criminal or civil wrongdoing could be attributed to it.

The FIA had probed 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.

In its report submitted to Prime Minister Imran Khan April last, the FIA Director General Wajid Zia had 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 Rs3.058bn during 2015-18.

“The FIA Lahore will decide whether to issue another call-up notice to Mr Tareen after examining his reply,” an official told Dawn.

Earlier, Tareen had told the FIA he had been undergoing medical treatment in the UK, therefore, he was submitting his reply to it. He also said he would appear before the FIA in person, if needed, on his return after getting well.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2020