• Courts extend his pre-arrest bail in three cases
• Ruling party’s 30 lawmakers accompany him to judicial complex

LAHORE: Ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s estranged lea­der Jahangir Khan Tareen on Sat­ur­day questioned the impartiality of a Federal Investigation Age­ncy (FIA) team and called for a transparent inquiry into the allegations of fraud and money laundering against him.

“Form a fair and noncontroversial investigation team, which could meet the requirements of justice and doesn’t follow instructions [given to it] on telephone calls,” the PTI’s former secretary general demanded.

Talking to the media outside the judicial complex after appea­ring before two courts for pre-arrest bail proceedings in the FIRs pertaining to over Rs5 billion money laundering and fraud charges in the sugar scam, Mr Tareen said: “Hold whatever inv­estigation and prosecution you want, but the [FIA] team dealing with the case is biased and not doing its work independently.”

His son, Ali Tareen, and other suspects nominated in the FIRs also appeared before the courts.

Mr Tareen was accompanied by eight PTI MNAs and at least 22 MPAs, including provincial minister Nauman Langrial, Raja Riaz, Nazir Chauhan, Suleman Naeem, Ghulam Bibi Bharwana, Khurram Leghari, Iftikhar Gondal, Aslam Bharwana, Tahir Randhawa and Ameer Mohammad Khan.

Mr Tareen said he was ready to face the law and expressed the hope that he would win the legal battle.

He alleged that the FIRs were originally drafted in Islamabad and later handed over to the investigation team in Lahore through a USB flash drive.

Mr Tareen said he was thankful to the party’s leaders who showed their support for him by their physical presence or over the phone.

The sugar mogul said he was part of the PTI and the party belonged to him.

Speaking to the journalists, MNA Riaz claimed that the 22 members of the provincial assembly and eight members of the national assembly belonging to the ruling party were present there to express solidarity with the leader. He said those hatching a conspiracy against Mr Tareen were in fact the enemy of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the PTI.

“We are not seeking any favour, but want to see the PTI and Imran Khan strong,” he said, while demanding ‘fair and free’ inquiry into the allegations against the former office-bearer of the party.

Minister Langrial also expressed his support for Mr Tareen and the PTI.

Earlier, Additional District and Sessions Judge Hamid Hussain extended the pre-arrest bail granted to Mr Tareen, his son and others till April 22 in the two FIRs.

They also appeared before a special court for banking offences, which extended their bail till April 17 in a third FIR.

Barrister Salman Safdar, the defence counsel, told the courts that Mr Tareen and his son had appeared before the FIA investigation team the other day, seeking extension in their bails for a longer period because of growing coronavirus pandemic.

A total of four FIRs have been registered against Mr Tareen and his relatives since November last in connection with the multi-billion-rupee sugar scam but the FIA has yet to lay its hands on them, adds Dawn.com. However, the FIA recently interrogated Mr Tareen and his son on the money-laundering and fraud charges in the sugar scam and got his and his family members’ 36 bank accounts frozen through the State Bank of Pakistan.

Earlier, on March 22 the FIA’s Lahore circle registered two FIRs against Mr Tareen, his son, and son-in-law and others over the Rs5bn money laundering and fraud charges in the sugar scam and sealed them. The agency opened the case last week ‘on an order from the top’ and initiated legal proceedings against those nominated.

According to the FIRs, Mr 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 2011-12 when fraudulent investments were made being pumped into FPML accounts, Tareen, 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 Mr 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.”

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2021

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