Zafar hears Tareen’s team, FIA officials on sugar scam probe

Published April 30, 2021
In this file photo, Jahangir Tareen speaks to the media outside a Lahore sessions court. — DawnNewsTV/File
In this file photo, Jahangir Tareen speaks to the media outside a Lahore sessions court. — DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE: Senator Barrister Ali Zafar, who has been tasked by Prime Minister Imran Khan with overseeing the sugar scam probe, on Thursday held meetings with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf ‘s estranged leader Jahangir Khan Tareen’s legal team and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials to have their views on the investigations conducted so far into the matter.

“I am confident that the analysis of the FIA investigations into the FIRs against Jahangir Tareen would be complete within the shortest possible time -- hopefully within a month. The final report will be submitted to the premier in May,” Senator Ali Zafar told Dawn.

Mr Zafar said he would continue holding meetings in this regard with both the FIA and legal and financial teams of Mr Tareen “to find out the truth”.

“However, in the meantime, the FIA may, if deems fit, continue its work on the sugar scam,” he added.

The prime minister this week had formed a one-man committee comprising his confidant, Senator Zafar, to ascertain whether the concerns that some persons holding key positions in the government and the PTI were politically victimising Mr Tareen, were genuine.

The decision to form the committee was made after PM Khan met some 30 lawmakers of his party backing Mr Tareen’s stance that he was being victimised.

Riaz alleges Shehzad Akbar wants to settle a score with estranged leader

On the pro-Tareen group’s demand, the government had also changed the FIA Lahore Director Mohammad Rizwan, who was heading the sugar scam probe. After his transfer, any action against those nominated in the FIRs has reportedly come to a halt, at least for the time being.

Mr Tareen had demanded formation of a new team that should be “free of the influence” of prime minister’s adviser Shahzad Akbar.

Tareen-Akbar Bickering

Talking to Dawn on Thursday, PTI MNA Raja Riaz, an outspoken member of the pro-Tareen group that now claims to have around 40 lawmakers, disclosed that Mr Shahzad Akbar had turned against Mr Tareen after a bickering between the two over some issue.

“Jahangir Tareen had snubbed Shahzad Akbar over some issue in the past. Since that day Akbar had been wanting to settle a score with him [Tareen]. And he [Akbar] used the FIA to teach a lesson to Mr Tareen,” Mr Riaz said and added the sugar inquiry head (Mr Rizwan) registered baseless FIRs against Mr Tareen and his son at the behest of Akbar.

“We are hopeful that the court will order quashing of the FIRs against Mr Tareen, instituted on flimsy grounds,” Riaz said, expressing full confidence in the one-member committee looking into the matter.

According to the investigation into the sugar scam so far, the FIA claims to have registered FIRs against over 30 sugar mills, including the one in which federal minister Khusro Bakhtiar and his family members are said to be major shareholders.

“FIRs have also been registered against PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz, officials of the sugar mills of two media houses after their alleged links with the sugar pricing manipulators (satta agents) surfaced,” the FIA report says. The agency had also registered cases against 40 satta agents.

The agency had last month claimed to have detected Rs110 billion earnings by the ‘sugar mafia’ during the last one year through speculative pricing.

Chaudhry Sugar Mills -- in which PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz has shares -- has also been booked for its alleged links with the ‘satta mafia’.

The Tareen and Shehbaz families are facing Rs5bn and Rs25bn money laundering and fraud charges, respectively.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2021

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