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ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court, on Monday, sought a reply from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the defence regarding maintainability of pleas filed by 20 accused in the sugarcane subsidy case under the National Accountability (second amendment) Ordinance 2021.

The Accountability Court-III judge, Syed Asghar Ali, while hearing misappropriation in the government subsidy awarded for sugarcane growers’ reference, issued notices to the NAB and the accused counsel, and sought arguments on the maintainability of applications filed by the accused through their counsels under the second amendment ordinance during the next hearing to be held on November 24.

The court has again deferred indictment of the accused after the defense counsel filed separate applications.

The defense counsels told the court that the charges could not be framed against the accused after the promulgation of the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2021.

They said that the case does not come under the jurisdiction of the NAB and the Accountability Court.

There are no allegations of pecuniary gains against the accused, they said, adding that the allegations are the negligence shown by the sugarcane commissioner.

The bureau filed the reference against the accused over charges of embezzlement of millions of funds issued by the government of Sindh to sugar mills as a subsidy for onward payment to the sugarcane farmers.

The accused, in the case, include Abdul Ghani Majeed, Khawaja Mustafa Zulqarnain, and others.

The court had already declared Ali Kamal Majeed, Nimr Majeed, Manahil Majeed, and Saima Majeed, proclaimed offenders over their failure to join the trial in the case.

The Sindh government through the provincial cane commissioner paid Rs3.9 billion to various sugar mills for onward payment to genuine sugarcane growers as subsidy on account of supply of sugarcane for the season 2014-2015.

An investigation was conducted against eight sugar mills owned by the Omni Group of Anwar Majeed, and his four sons, Abdul Ghani Majeed, Nimr Majeed, Mustafa Zulqarnain Majeed, and Ali Kamal Majeed.

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

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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