ISLAMABAD: Directors of the Omni Group and other accused facing a reference relating to alleged embezzlement of subsidy for sugarcane growers have sought their acquittal under the recently promulgated ordinance that has curtailed the jurisdiction of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The 16 accused in the sugarcane subsidy reference, including Khawaja Anwar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed, have filed applications for their acquittal in an accountability court through senior lawyer Arshad Tabrez and Barrister Tassaduq Hanif.

According to the applicants, after promulgation of the National Accountability Second Amendment Ordinance, 2021, the jurisdiction of NAB has been curtailed and now it can proceed only against public office holders involved in mega corruption.

Bureau alleges sugar mills owners are involved in misappropriation of subsidy worth millions of rupees

Section 4 of the ordinance has curtailed the jurisdiction of accountability courts as sub-section 2-C excludes “any person or entity who, or transaction in relation thereto, which are not directly or indirectly connected with the holder of public office.”

As per the ordinance, “all matters pertaining to federal, provincial or local taxation, other levies or imposts, including refunds, or loss of exchequer pertaining to taxation” will be dealt with in accordance with the revenue or banking laws and will be transferred from the accountability courts to the courts of competent jurisdiction.

The applicants argued that since they have never held any public office and there is no evidence to substantiate they have received any financial gain and the matter in question is related to private entities, the amended law excludes them from the ambit of the anti-graft watchdog.

NAB has filed the fake bank accounts case against the Omni Group which is also accused of having been involved in misappropriation of subsidy granted to sugarcane growers in 2014-15.

The bureau alleges in the reference that the owners of the sugar mills are involved in “corruption and corrupt practices and misappropriation of government subsidy worth millions of rupees”.

An investigation was conducted into the affairs of eight sugar mills of the Omni Group which is owned by Anwar Majeed and his sons Khawaja Abdul Ghani Majeed, Khawaja Nimr Majeed, Khawaja Mustafa Zulqarnain Majeed and Khawaja Ali Kamal Majeed.

The investigation revealed that “out of Rs728.18 million subsidy granted to the eight sugar mills of Omni Group, an amount of Rs346 million has been misappropriated” by the accused in connivance with their senior employees by showing their “low paid” staff as sugarcane growers.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2021

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