FIA doesn’t want Tareens on no-fly list in sugar scam

Published October 25, 2021
This combo photo shows estranged PTI leader Jahangir Tareen (left) and his son, Ali Tareen (right). — Photos: DawnNewsTV/File
This combo photo shows estranged PTI leader Jahangir Tareen (left) and his son, Ali Tareen (right). — Photos: DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE: As the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is digging out evidence related to ‘onward money trail’ in the case of estranged Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Jahangir Khan Tareen and his son Ali Tareen, the agency has decided not to request the interior ministry for the placement of the duo’s names on the no-fly list because ‘it does not feel the need’.

Mr Tareen has been in London since last week for what he claims ‘his medical check-up’ and other engagements.

As the Tareens are facing Rs5 billion money laundering and fraud charges in three FIRs in the sugar scam, the FIA has decided not to initiate proceedings to place his and his son’s names on the Exit Control List (ECL).

“Since both the father and son have assets in Pakistan worth more than the amount (Rs5bn) mentioned in the FIRs, the agency does not feel the reason to request the government to place their names on no-fly list,” an official source told Dawn on Sunday.

The source further said the FIA was digging out evidence related to an onward money trail in the ‘suspicious’ transactions of the duo. “This evidence will be helpful to prosecute them (Tareens) in the court of law,” he said.

Interestingly, the names of PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza, who are also facing Rs25bn money laundering and fraud charges in the FIA’s sugar scam, are on the no-fly list.

Tareen and his son had secured a ‘relief’ a few months ago when the FIA did not seek their arrest before two courts, citing lack of ‘incriminating evidence’ against them in the money laundering and sugar scam cases. Subsequently, their bails were confirmed.

The reason behind ‘relief’ to Tareen was said to be the pressure from about 40 lawmakers hailing from south Punjab who threatened Prime Minister Imran Khan that they would not vote for the budget both in the Centre and Punjab if ‘justice’ was not rendered to their leader (Tareen) in what they called ‘fake cases’ (against him).

Earlier, PTI Senator Barrister Ali Zafar on the premier’s direction had ‘analysed’ the FIA probe in which Tareen group’s spokesperson MNA Raja Riaz claimed that he (Tareen) had been given a ‘clean chit’ by him (Zafar).

The Tareen group had named Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar behind victimisation of Tareen. An MPA from Lahore, Nazir Chohan, had even gone to the extent of challenging his (Akbar’s) faith. But upon his arrest by the FIA for his ‘baseless’ charges against Akbar, Chohan not only apologised to him but also said goodbye to the Tareen group.

A source close to Mr Tareen said: “He (Tareen) feels betrayed by his friend Imran Khan. He thinks that FIA’s action against him is not possible without the approval of Mr Khan for whom he had spent his bucks and used his clout to bring him into power especially forming the Punjab government,” he said.

The FIA is reportedly ‘going slow’ against several sugar mills including those owned by the owners of two media groups, the mills in which federal minister Khusro Bakhtiar and his family members have shares, and 40 satta agents (price manipulators).

The FIA had earlier claimed the sugar mafia earned Rs110 billion during the last one year through ‘speculative pricing’.

The Tareen group gets ‘relevant’ in the ongoing saga of new ISI chief appointment. It comprises 30 MPAs and eight MNAs from south Punjab and becomes important, says a group member in a talk with Dawn.

Since the group is close to the establishment, the political circles see its importance for any no-confidence move against the PTI governments in the Centre and Punjab.

“The group is not very much intact but at least six more lawmakers from Punjab have contacted us showing their intention to join the Tareen group. We have told them to wait for an appropriate time,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2021

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