ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday approved an inquiry against sugar mills of Sindh for obtaining subsidy that was declared illegal by an inquiry commission on the sugar scandal that surfaced in 2019.
The decision to conduct the inquiry was taken in a meeting of NAB’s Executive Board presided over by its chairman retd Justice Javed Iqbal.
According to NAB, the sugar mills are located in Mirpurkhas, Thatta, Khairpur, Sujawal, Nawabshah and other cities.
A senior official of NAB told Dawn that the inquiry would be initiated on the recommendations of the sugar inquiry commission. The anti-graft watchdog is already conducting an inquiry against sugar mills in other parts of the country.
NAB first started a probe into 2019 sugar scam in September last year after the Supreme Court suspended the Sindh High Court (SHC) order that had nullified the sugar inquiry commission’s report.
The Supreme Court temporarily suspended the SHC’s verdict that had declared the constitution of the sugar inquiry commission illegal and rejected the move to get a stay on the sugar commission report.
Under the action matrix proposed by the commission, different departments have been given tasks to probe the scam through different angles and aspects.
The forensic audit report of the commission, which was made public on May 21, 2020, some two months after the FIA had submitted a report of investigations into the sugar scam, had exposed over Rs150 billion fraud in production, sale and export of the commodity every year by sugar barons, including PTI’s estranged leader Jahangir Tareen, a brother of federal minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Mohsin Ilahi, a leader of the PTI’s ally Pakistan Muslim League-Q, and the sons of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shehbaz Sharif.
The report revealed how “sugar cartel” in the country comprising 88 mills, in collaboration with some government departments, cheated sugarcane growers and later common man right from the procurement of cane, production of sugar, sale in the local market to obtaining export subsidy and billions of rupees’ tax evasion.
Six groups of sugar mills were said to be the main beneficiary in the scam. They are RYK Group owned by Monis Elahi and Umar Shehryar; JDW Group of Jahangir Tareen, his son Ali Khan Tareen and Ahmed Ali; Sharif Group owned by Salman Shehbaz and Hamza Shehbaz; Hunza Group; Fatima Group; Al-Moiz Group and Omni Group.
The report said the groups were also major beneficiaries of Rs29 billion federal export subsidy since 2015, as RYK Group received subsidy of Rs3.94bn, JDW Rs3.05bn, Hunza Rs2.87bn, Fatima Rs2.3bn, Sharif Group Rs1.47bn, Al-Moiz Rs1.45bn and Omni Group Rs0.9bn.
The EBM also approved filing of a corruption reference in an accountability court against Mohammad Ramazan Sehato and others on the allegation of 95 illegal appointments in Education and Literacy Department, Naushahro Feroze, Sindh, by abusing authority, which caused Rs160 million losses to national exchequer.
As many as 15 other inquiries were also authorised against former federal minister Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi and others, Haji Khan Umrani, Abdul Jabbar Yousafzai and others, former MNA Khuda Bakhsh Nizamani, former federal minister Khuda Bakhsh Rajar and others, Board of Revenue, Malir, Karachi and others; Peetam Dam’s superintendent engineer, Bagharari Gaesh Circle, Kotri Barrage, Sohail Mansoor, Rehan Mansoor Khawaja, alleged front-man of former federal minister Babar Ghori, and others, Hassan Ali Sharif, alleged front-man of Mukesh Kumar Chawla, Waheed Sheikh, deputy director, Excise and Taxation Department, Sindh, and others, Sadia Fatima Sikandar, Usman Sikandar, Iram Fatima Sikandar, Khalilur Rehman and others, management of Larkana Model Town Housing Scheme, Gulshan Mustafa Scheme and others.
Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2021