LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Sunday registered cases against estranged Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Jahangir Tareen, his son, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif and his two sons and others in the multibillion rupee sugar scam under the money laundering, fraud and other charges.
According to official sources, the FIA’s investigation against federal Minister of Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtiar and his family members in this scam is also under way and they may be summoned soon.
The sugar scam probe has been conducted under the supervision of the FIA’s Punjab Director Mohammad Rizwan.
The FIR has been registered against Jahangir Tareen, his son Ali Tareen under sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating of public shareholders) and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code and r/w 3/4 of Anti Money Laundering Act.
Inquiry against Khusro, family under way
Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his sons — Hamza and Salman — have been booked under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 — financial fraud, impersonation and forgery — of the PPC and 5(2) and 5(3) — criminal misconduct — of Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of Anti Money Laundering Act.
According to sources, the FIA will record their statements in person before reaching a decision based on evidence whether to arrest them.
“Jahangir Tareen and his son Ali, who earlier had skipped FIA hearing because they were in London, will be re-summoned to record their statements. An FIA team will record the statements of Shehbaz and Hamza in (Kot Lakhpat) jail where they are on judicial remand in NAB’s money laundering and income beyond means cases. Salman Shehbaz, who is absconding in the UK, will be summoned. And in case of his non-appearance, the process of issuing his red warrants will be initiated,” an official source told Dawn.
When Mr Tareen returned early this month after about a six-month stay in the United Kingdom, opposition PML-N had alleged that he was back under ‘some deal’. His statement that he would help the government in its endeavours to control sugar shortage and price hike was construed in the political circles that his relations with his ‘old friend’ (Prime Minister Imran Khan) are on the mend.
His son Ali returned too at a time when his cricket team — Multan Sultans — is taking part in the play-offs stage of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
The FIR says during the course of inquiry it was noted that an amount of at least Rs1.2bn was overpaid (transferred by Jahangir Tareen) from the accounts of a listed public limited company (JDW Sugar Mills Ltd) to another company (JK Forming System Ltd, hereinafter JKFSL owned by his children) while purchasing the assets of the latter (JKFSL) at an exorbitant non-arm’s length purchase price of Rs4.35bn in November 2013. “During the course of present inquiry, it has transpired that the JDW Sugar Mills recorded a false disclosure in its annual audited financial statement of 2014,” it says.
Earlier, Mr Tareen in his defence had said all transactions were financially prudent under the circumstances in which they were carried out. All JDW personnel had cooperated with the Joint Investigation Team and the Combined Investigation Team at every stage and provided documentary evidence to establish the transparent, legitimate, and bona fide nature of each transaction, he added.
The separate FIR against Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza and Salman says during the course of the FIA inquiry, it was learnt that total deposits amounting to over Rs25bn (2008-18), identified so far, were received in bank accounts of various low-wage employees of Ramzan Sugar Mills and Al-Arabia Sugar Mills and accounts of fake companies set up and controlled by the Sharif group.
“The low-wage employees of the Sharif group’s Ramzan Sugar Mills and Al-Arabia Sugar Mills have admitted during the inquiry that these accounts were opened and operated for the personal/secret transactions of Salman Shehbaz on the instruction of CFO of the Sharif group Mohammad Usman. Mushtaq Cheeni has provided secret ledgers as a proof to show that the money from undisclosed sale of sugar deposited into these accounts is only Rs3.95bn implying therein that the source of remaining funds is extraneous to sugar business and can best be explained by Shehbaz Sharif and his sons and their mills officers who managed these accounts,” the FIR says.
The FIR further says the inquiry has demonstrated that Shehbaz Sharif aided and abetted by his sons — Hamza and Salman — have been found to be involved in amassing wealth (pecuniary resources) disproportionate to their known sources of income.
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2020