LAHORE: A day after serving call-up notice to PML-N President and Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Lahore has now sent a questionnaire to the former Punjab chief minister in the multibillion sugar inquiry probe and directed him to appear before investigators on June 24.
“The Sugar Investigation Team (SIT) of the FIA Lahore while conducting a criminal investigation with respect to Al-Arabia/Ramzan Sugar Mills Limited (RSML) and related family-owned business entities discovered over Rs25 billion deposited (2008 to 2018) in bank accounts opened/operated in the names of peons and clerks of the RSML while you were CEO of RSML and also held public office as member National Assembly,” reads the questionnaire, a copy of which is available with Business Recorder.
While asking five questions from the PML-N president, the FIA has warned him that failure to answer queries and appearance before the SIT on June 24 will entail that “you have nothing to say in your defence” and the investigators may proceed to take legal action including arrest.
“The FIA has credible evidence that over Rs25 billion (identified so far) were deposited (including gratifications from sources extraneous to sugar-business) opened and operated in the name of peons/clerks of Ramzan Sugar Mills Ltd (RSML)/Al-Arabia Sugar Mills Ltd. (ASML) and fake companies (listed in FIR No 39/2020 FIA ACC Lahore). These accounts were operated from 2008 to 2018 while you were CEO RSML. Who is responsible for this organised (money) laundering of (illicit) proceeds extraneous to the sugar business?” reads the first question.
In the second question, the agency asked: “Being director/CEO of RSML (2007-18), what is/was your statutory responsibility (under section 230 of the Companies Ordinance 1984 and 220 of the Companies Act 2017 and relevant other laws, forex-banking regulations, various national and international anti-money laundering legislations) vis-à-vis maintenance of books of accounts and bank accounts and true disclosure of the source of over Rs25 billion received in the accounts mentioned in FIR No 39/2020 FIA ACC Lahore?”
The FIA claimed it has credible information that gratifications were received by you and on your behalf by Rizwan Qureshi through cheques/cash handed over for onward structured deposits into various accounts by trusted cash-officers of RSML. “What is/was your response about the use of your family-owned business entity (RSML) as a vehicle of money-laundering of which you were CEO?”
“FIA has credible information that money received from aforementioned illicit sources, by you or on your behalf, was transferred via various hundi/hawala networks outside Pakistan for investments abroad, re-routing back to you/ related family-owned businesses in the guise of (bogus) foreign remittances, or layered locally into the financial matrix beneficially held by you and your family while deriving financial benefits far beyond your known source(s) of income, how can you shift responsibility of crimes to your younger brother or your waged-employees?”
“Since you were director/CEO (integral part of board of directors) and shareholder in your family-owned businesses (listed below) which had been layering and shifting huge (illicit) money in the guise of bogus business transactions, you are hereby required to truthfully disclose (as per your knowledge) any/all international assets (companies, properties, investments or accounts etc.) which are either held in your or any of your family member’s (parents, siblings, spouse) name(s) or those in which you or any of your family members have any controlling or beneficial interest either directly or through any special purpose vehicle/off-shore company,” reads the questionnaire. It may be mentioned that FIA has already summoned Shehbaz on June 22 in the same case.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021