ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the accountability process in the sugar crisis scandal will progress without hindrance or impunity. He further commended that strict action is required against those who hoarded sugar to create an artificial shortage.
The comments came while the prime minister presided over a meeting at his official residence on Friday. While the prime minister has reiterated his resolve to pursue and punish those who caused a national level crisis for sugar, this statement comes at a time when the cases against PTI leader Jehangir Tareen are proceeding with haste. Tareen, who is seen as the primary suspect in the sugar crisis case, has expressed that he’s been “subjected to media trial to damage his reputation.”
“Why are my sugar mills being targeted? What about the other 80 sugar mills? Is there no issue with them?” Tareen had earlier expressed his anger. Tareen said that all three cases against him are frivolous and have no substance. The decisions of the company made six to 10 years ago are being challenged, and it is not the FIA’s job to challenge these decisions.
The FIA had been handed the case “on purpose”, he added. He said by adding the term “money laundering” the cases have been painted as criminal cases.
Earlier today, the government and private banks in Pakistan froze at least 36 bank accounts of Jahangir Tareen and his family members. The accounts were frozen after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) requested the same in a case pertaining to Tareen’s JDW Sugar Mills.
According to reports, the Tareens have bank accounts in multiple banks. 21 accounts are in the name of Ali Tareen, 14 are operated by Jahangir Tareen, while one account belongs to his wife.
The probe against Tareen started after the report of the sugar inquiry commission last year. The commission had implicated Tareen’s JDW Sugar Mills among other sugar mills for circumventing laws to make profits.
The report had revealed how a sugar cartel comprising 88 mills, including JDW Sugar Mills owned by Tareen, had cheated sugarcane growers and consumers at every step to mint money, resulting in the hike in the price of sugar.
In June 2020, PM Imran Khan said his government has started an action on basis of a sugar inquiry report and that he will “unmask all mafias”.
In August, FIA initiated an investigation into money laundering charges against Tareen’s JWD Group. In November 2020, FIA registered a case against Tareen and his son Ali Tareen over money laundering.
As per the FIA, Tareen allegedly transferred Rs3.14 billion to a private company, Farooqi Pulp Private Limited, owned by his son and close relatives. “The transfers, especially after 2011-2012, were patently fraudulent investments which ultimately translated into personal gains for the family member of the JDW CEO,” the FIR alleged.
It further alleged that Ali Tareen purchased cash from the open market in Lahore in a structured manner to remit it to the UK. “Subsequently, in 2016, Ali Khan Tareen remitted approximately US$7.4 million to the United Kingdom for purchasing properties (to be investigated in detail during the course of the investigation) which makes them liable for Anti-Money Laundering investigation,” the FIR quoted in media said.
The sugar crisis has reached an acute point as of now. Earlier in a proposal to manage the increasing sugar price and timely manage its storage, the Punjab Government requested the Central Government to grant permission to beverage companies, sweets industry, beverage manufacturing factories, and Utility stores to be able to directly import sugar.
Sources at CM secretariat told The Correspondent about Punjab’s letter was aimed to counter any massive crises during Ramzan when Sugar’s demand usually peaks.
The Punjab Government also suggested that the Federal Government, like the Federal authorities, these mega consumers should be given the same condition to import sugar without any duty. Punjab Government warned in the letter that the demand-supply deficit will be most severe in Ramzan.
The government had also tried to allow sugar imports from India, as the newly appointed finance minister, Hammad Azhar, had announced. Subsequently, this plan was abandoned, but the fact that the government was willing to do this points towards the scarcity of sugar in the market as of now.