FIA serves another notice on Shehbaz Sharif, wants response by October 8

Shahid Aslam Special Correspondent - Lahore

29th Sep, 2021. 06:24 pm
Shehbaz Sharif Accuses Government Of Manipulating Revenue figures

Shehbaz Sharif

LAHORE: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), investigating the infamous sugar scandal, has served another notice on President Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and has asked him to respond to 20 queries on or before October 08, Bol News has learnt.

The FIA Lahore team has written in the notice that these 20 questions are the same asked from Shahbaz Sharif in the call-up notice of June 15 as well as during his appearance before the sugar inquiry team on June 22.

The questions which have been sent to PML-N president by FIA are as follows:

Q-1. What do you have to say about the facts that deposits of over Rs. 25 billion [from 2008 to 2018] were made in bank accounts operated in the names of peons & clerks of Ramzan Sugar Mills Ltd [RSML]? Do you think it is an activity of organized financial crime? [It is a non-accusatory question]. Q-2. Are you aware about the framework envisaged by FATF’s 40 Recommendations on Domestic & International Anti-Money Laundering?

Q-3. Are you familiar about the term Politically Exposed Person [PEP]? Do you consider your family-members as PEPs? Do you think RSML, ASML and their associated companies are owned by PEPs? Q-4. Do you know that FATF recommends enhanced due-diligence for PEPs and also emphasizes an early-detection system (red-flags) with respect to PEP’s use any of the Financial Institutions & DNFBP’s in line with UNCAC’s Article 52?

Q-5. What do you think might be the reasons behind abject failure of SBP, Banks & FMU etc [from 2008 to 2018] in raising any red flags with respect to the accounts being operated in the names of ‘peons & clerks’ of RSML from 2008 to 2018? [It is a non-accusatory question]. Q-6. Are you aware that in international as well as domestic law, if PEPS/ Public Servants are found to be (beneficially) holding any assets (including pecuniary resources) that are not satisfactorily accounted-for by their declared income, the Burden of Proof that such assets did not accrue from gratifications while holding public office lies on the PEPS/Public Servants?

Q-7. Mian M. Hamza Shahbaz Sharif (CEO RSML) has shifted responsibility for operation of accounts to his younger brother Suleman Shehbaz Sharif? Do you agree or disagree with his position? Q-8. What were the reasons behind abscondence of Suleman Shehbaz (to UK on 27 Oct 2018) and abscondence of key-employees like Malik Maqsood, peon (to UAE on 14 March 2018), Syed M Tahir Naqvi (to UAE on 7″ Nov 2018) and cash-boys like Masroor Anwar, Shoaib Qamar and Muzammil Raza etc? Shouldn’t they all be here to explain the transactions in question?

Q-9. Do you know M. Mushtaq Cheeniwala sole-broker RSML/ASML? He disclosed to the Sugar Investigation Team that approximately Rs. 4 billion of the total deposits of over Rs. 25 billion were from off-the-book sales of sugar/ molasses etc (which amounts to tax-fraud to the tune of money-laundering and pertains to FBR). The remaining amount (over Rs. 21 billion) was from “extraneous sources and actual source of such huge funds can only be explained by Sharif family. Do you think Hamza Shahbaz as CEO RSML is liable to explain these transactions?

Q-10. How do you thinks cheques amounting to over Rs. 10 million presented by Aurangzeb Butt (Chairman Beatification Committee Gujrat) to you at 180-H Model Town Lahore (April 2013) got deposited into one of these accounts which was being operated in the name of Gulzar A Khan (Late) peon RSML?

Q-11. An account (linked to UBL-Omni BISP micro-finance disbursement account) is found to be making remittances into bank accounts of Malik Maqsood (Peon RSML) & Chaudhry Sugar Mills Ltd. Do you think such transfers constitute money laundering?

Q-12. Split & structured deposits (to avoid FMU’s CTR reporting threshold) amounting to over Rs. 8 billion, including those from low-profile laborers/ innocent victims (of parallel banking) and spurious entities have been found in these accounts? Do you think such deposits are indicative of money laundering? Q-13.

There is evidence of deposits in these accounts by parties un-related to sugar business including, cotton mills, wheat-mills, rice mills, petrol pumps & CNGS, oil & lube shops, steel-furnaces, medicine & pharmas, jewelers, government officials, contractors/builders, property agents, electronics vendors, shoes & clothing stores, iron/steel stores, carpet-dealers, paint, sanitary & kiryanas, restaurants, tyre shops, mobile shops, toy shops, travel agents, dry fruit-shops, furniture shops, photostat shops and autos workshops, etc.

Don’t you think such receipts into accounts of RSML peons & clerks’ entail a very high risk of money-laundering?

Q-14. Almost all (over 90%) of the money-deposited (read disguised) into these accounts was withdrawn in structured cash withdrawals (to avoid CTR threshold) mostly by a single cash-boy who has gone underground. Do you think it is a good business technique (since you had been CEO of Chaudhry Sugar Mills Ltd and Director/ Managing Agent of Hudaibiya Paper Mills Ltd). Or do you think structured cash withdrawals of such huge amounts can be potentially used to break the money-trail of utilization of funds?

Q-15. There is credible information available with the Sugar Investigation Team that Suleman Shehbaz Sharif received “cash-bags” at your Residence/ Camp-Office (96-H Model Town Lahore). Then Syed M. Tahir Naqvi transported the cash to “Cash-Branch” located at Corporate Office of Sharif Group’s Companies, 55-K Model Town, Lahore. Then this cash was used for deposits (placement/ layering) into various family-owned businesses/ personal accounts, retiring loans, FCY purchases from local-market & outward remittances via banks and IMVTS. Do you think such a pattern of utilization of aforementioned (huge) cash amounts to money-laundering?

Q-16. Do you know that your family-owned company has been reported to be remitting payments to a (fake) foreign company, for import-payments not your direct responsibility? However, do you think that if a disguised transfer is substantiated, it amounts to money-laundering?

Q-17. Do you know that a contractor firm engaged with civil and various development works at New Islamabad Airport has been found to be remitting money to your son and then into your family-owned business entity? However, do you think that if such a layered transfer is substantiated, it amounts to money-laundering?

Q-18. Information available with Sugar Investigation Team reveals that Inter-bank transfers were made to Sherrards Solicitors LLP Holborn London. Remittances for family-maintenance expenses in UK were also made to Afzaal Bhatti, KBM UK Ltd, Waqar Ahmed & Mrs. Nargis Waqar, Reshma Bhola, Hassan Bhola, Assenje Bhola & various others? Do you think that management of RSML & associated companies is duty-bound to make a true and full disclosure of all foreign-remittances to the Sugar Investigation Team?

Q-19. Does Suleman Shehbaz Sharif (as per your knowledge) beneficially hold or has held any businesses (registered in Companies House) in Birmingham, London, anywhere in mainland UK or any of the British Overseas Territories/ Isles.

Q-20. have you ever been in any of the following places including British Overseas Territories & Isles, Switzerland or Delaware/Texas USA?

The FIA team has asked Shehbaz Sharif to respond to these queries on or before October 8 so the inquiry team could file its response in the court on next date of hearing, i.e, October 9. According to FIA, the notices have been sent to Shehbaz Sharif’s Lahore residence as well as his office at Islamabad.

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