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Asif Ali Zardari, accomplices grabbed Pakistan govt-run companies through dubious means, reveals JIT report

Islamabad: Pakistan's former president Asif Ali Zardari and his accomplices grabbed government entities through dubious means, said a Supreme Court-appointed investigative team probing fake bank accounts.

According to the joint investigation team (JIT) report submitted to the apex court, the Omni Group (allegedly owned by Zardari and his close aides) acquired four state-run entities — Thatta Cement Factory, Thatta Sugar Mills, Naudero Sugar Mills and Dadu Sugar Mills — in Sindh at throwaway prices.

The report, a copy of which is with PTI, said the payments were also made from fake bank accounts in some cases. For example, the Thatta Cement was purchased for Rs 135 million and the amount was paid through fake bank accounts.

 Asif Ali Zardari, accomplices grabbed Pakistan govt-run companies through dubious means, reveals JIT report

File image of former Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari. Reuters

The Naudero Sugar Mills was purchased by the Omni group in 2001 for Rs 68 million, whereas the market value of the entity at that time was Rs 142.89 million, it said.

Similarly, the Thatta Sugar Mills was sold to the Omni Group for Rs 127.5 million in 2013, while its market value at that time was Rs 716.11 million. The Dadu Sugar Mills was acquired by the same group in 2008 at Rs 90 million against its original price of Rs 626.70 million.

The Omni group not only bought the entities at cheaper prices but also embezzled Rs 7.19 billion subsidies given by the Sindh government to the four entities, according to the JIT report submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday.

The JIT probe focused on "32 fake accounts" which were allegedly used to give massive financial benefits to Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and several others.

The probe team said the evidence shows that Zardari and Talpur used the Omni Group as "front" and "influenced the financial institutions and regulators and misused" the Sindh government authority on a very wide scale to amass a great fortune "consigning the masses in Sindh to utter neglect and despair".

It also said Farook H Naek, the counsel of Zardari and Talpur, were also involved in money laundering.

The report said there was a close nexus among the Zardari Group, the Omni Group and the Bahria Town, which is a private real estate company that often deposited huge sums of money in some of the fake accounts.

The Omni group mostly paid the expenses of Zardari and his family and the JIT found phenomenal growth in the business of the Omni group after 2008 when Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party formed the government in Sindh.

"The crime and corruption unearthed in this report is only the ‘Tip of the Iceberg' - JIT was constrained both in time and scope," the report said.

The JIT constituted by the Supreme Court on September 5 comprise officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

The probe team summoned 885 persons and examined in detail 767 individuals and witnesses. It explored 11,500 bank accounts of 924 individuals and companies and compiled the report.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party strongly rejected the report and said it was being used to defame Zardari.

"There is nothing new in the report. Such allegations were also made in the past but nothing came out of them," party leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said.

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Updated Date: Dec 26, 2018 22:56:23 IST