PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen was left “shocked” at the claims made against him after the findings from the sugar inquiry report were made public today.
According to the report: “Audit Team of JDW Sugar Mills found some additional information about ‘SATTA’ from interviews as well as forensic analysis of brokers of Punjab.”
“During his interview with the Team, broker Mr. Aslam stated that during the month of March 2020, he has executed forward trades of around 11,135 trucks amounting to Rs. 10,292,219,000 with the JDW Company and Ittehad Sugar Mills,” it read.
The premier’s aide on accountability, Shahzad Akbar had declared the report public in a press briefing, and said: “[The report] confirms the premier’s longheld view that businessmen in politics will put business first”.
While discussing the findings, Akbar identified the mills owned by Shahbaz Sharif’s family, Jahangir Tareen, Khusro Bakhtiar’s brother and Moonis Elahi and revealed that six major sugar mill groups were acting as “cartels”.
He said that the company owned by Shahbaz Sharif’s family engaged in “double reporting”. In 2017-18, the company raked in additional profits of Rs1.3bn and in 2018-19, they earned Rs780 million.
Akbar said sugar mills belonging to Jahangir Tareen’s group were found guilty of “double billing” and “over-invoicing” as well as “corporate fraud”.
Speaking of Economic Affairs Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, he said that his brother is the one who owns a sugar mill and he does not hold political office. “We cannot ask Khusro Bakhtiar to resign from his post. An inquiry will be initiated against whoever is directly involved.”
He said among the mills shortlisted is Alliance which is owned by the RYK Group. Moonis Elahi has 34% ownership of the group.
Tareen, responding to report and the briefing, said: “I am shocked at the kind of false allegations levelled against me. I have always run a clean business. All Pakistan knows I always pay full price to my growers.”
“I DO NOT maintain 2 sets of Books. I pay all my taxes diligently. I will answer every allegation and be vindicated IA,” he said.
‘Real culprit Imran Khan’
For his part, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said that the report is “nothing but falsehood” and that the commission did not record the statement of the “real culprit Imran Khan”.
Speaking in Geo News’ programme “Capital Talk”, he said that “PM Imran is behind the scandal”.
“My children have been named in the inquiry report but they did not export sugar.”
Meanwhile, PML-N’s Malik Ahmad Khan said that the federal and Punjab governments did not hold anyone responsible for providing subsidies.
“They had to identify the ones responsible [for giving subsidies] in the report, which they failed to do,” he said, adding: “Was action taken against those who gave false reports to the prime minister?”
Khan said that the FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) was looking after matters pertaining the sugar mills and they did “not mention” anything about double records.
“The inquiry commission’s main objective was to probe the export of one million tonnes worth of sugar which they did not do,” he said.
He claimed that during Shehbaz’s government, the price of sugarcane was not reduced nor was the price of sugar allowed to increase.
Moonis Elahi backs inquiry commission
Reacting to the statement, Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q) leader Moonis Elahi, in a tweet, said: “As stated earlier I am not involved in the management nor am I on the board of any Sugar Mill.”
“I strongly support the recommendation of commission to control satta/speculation including new legislation to help government control sugar price manipulation,” he said.
‘Commission’s goal was to pinpoint opponents’
Talking about Sindh, the provincial government’s spokesperson, Murtaza Wahab, said that the report which Akbar presented was based on “false allegations”.
“The inquiry commission had to probe the matters pertaining to the years 2019 and 2020,” Wahab said, adding: “2017 and 18 were not mentioned in the TORs or maybe they are trying to save some people.”
Wahab said that they have reservations if the commission’s goal was to “pinpoint political opponents”. “Punjab gave subsidy in 2019-20.”
The Sindh government spokesperson said that the Centre had “Bilawal Bhutto and Murad Ali Shah” phobia and that the parametre of the inquiry was being broadened so that the actual people responsible “could not be” identified.
“Those who are responsible for this act should be handcuffed but they need to identify them. Centre permitted sugar export not Sindh,” said Wahab.