LAHORE: Tightening the noose around the neck of a once powerful man of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has registered two more FIRs against Jahangir Khan Tareen and his family members facing over Rs5 billion money laundering and fraud charges in the sugar scam.

The FIA’s Lahore circle had registered both the FIRs against Jahangir Tareen, his son Ali Tareen, son-in-law and others on March 22 and sealed them. However, on Wednesday it opened the FIRs ‘on an order from the top’ and initiated legal proceedings against those nominated.

A total of four FIRs have been registered against Mr Tareen and others since November last in connection with the multi-billion-rupee sugar scam but the FIA has yet to lay its hands on them.

“The agency is still gathering incriminating evidence against them to put them behind bars,” an official said.

“The FIA had summoned Jahangir Khan Tareen and Ali Tareen six times in person to record their statements on specific questions but they failed to appear. Instead of joining the investigation they sent irrelevant company documents through a manager of JDW Sugar Mills,” a spokesperson for the FIA told Dawn. He said both FIRs had been registered against them (Tareen and his family members) after complete investigation.

Jahangir Tareen termed the FIRs part of a vilification campaign against him and his family members. “FIA’s latest claims against me and my family are totally fabricated. I have already submitted a detailed reply along with concrete evidence in response to the FIA notice. Unfortunate to see them go on another smear campaign against me & my family without establishing anything illegal,” Tareen said in a tweet.

According to the new FIRs, Jahangir Tareen “fraudulently misappropriated shareholder’s money after his company, JDW group, transferred Rs3.14bn to an associated private company — Farooqi Pulp Pvt Ltd (FPML), Gujrat, which is owned by his son and close relatives.

“During 2011-2012 when fraudulent investments were made being pumped into FPML accounts, Treen, his son Ali and other family members purchased US dollars from the open market in Lahore in a structured manner (keeping each transaction below FMUs STR/CTR reporting threshold of US$35,000 to avoid detection). Subsequently, in 2016, Ali Tareen remitted US$7.4m to the UK for the purchase of properties (to be investigated) which makes them liable for anti-money laundering investigation.”

The FIA said: “A premeditated scheme of misappropriation of public shareholders’ money by Jahangir Tareen has surfaced whereby voluminous withdrawals amounting to at least Rs2.2 billion were fraudulently and dishonestly made through a trusted cash rider Amir Waris (from 2017 to 2020). Waris employed as a cashier at JDW’s Corporate Head Office, deposited huge cash amounts into the personal and business accounts of Tareen and his family members including females.” The FIR mentioned the names of the Tareen family women on whose accounts a huge sum of money had been deposited.

It said: “This modus operandi of cash-based misappropriation and money laundering was employed to break the onwards money trail of deposits into personal and business accounts of the accused Tareen and family.”

Both FIRs have been registered under sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating of public shareholders) and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), read with sections 3/4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act against all those mentioned in the FIRs.

In the light of the FIRs, the FIA summoned Tareen’s JDW Sugar Mills chief operating officer Rana Naseem Ahmed Khan who remained former commissioner of Lahore. He has been directed to bring the record of the amounts he received from the JDW’s funds in the last five years, foreign currency he purchased and transfer of money abroad, his assets etc.

The FIA last week had detected Rs110 billion earnings by the `sugar mafia’ during the last one year through ‘speculative pricing’ and also registered an FIR against Jahangir Tareen’s JDW group, Gourmet Bakers & Sweets Pvt Ltd, Lahore and seven other sugar groups, and 40 sugar pricing manipulators (satta-agents) under sections 420, 468, 471 and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), read with sections 3/4 of Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010. The FIA also claims to have frozen over 400 bank accounts of satta-agents.

The FIA in November last had registered cases against Jahangir Tareen, his son Ali Tareen, PML-N resident Shehbaz Sharif, his sons Hamza and Suleman and others in the sugar scam under money laundering, fraud and other charges. The FIA has also summoned the chief financial officers (CFOs) and heads of sales of PTI’s Jahangir Tareen’s JDW Sugar Mills for April 2, Maryam Nawaz and Sharif family’s Chaudhry Sugar Mills on March 31, Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Hamza Shahbaz’s Ramzan Sugar Mills on April 2, Madina Sugar Mills of Kissan group on April 7, PTI’s Hamayun Akhtar’s Tandliawala Sugar Mills for April 12 and Hamza Sugar Mills of Mian Tayyab group on April 8 in the sugar scam.

Despite the FIA’s action the sweetener crisis is looming in the country. There are reports of shortage of the commodity in the market while the sugar dealers are observing strike in some parts of the province.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2021

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