FIA Anti-Corruption Circle in Lahore registers money laundering case against Chaudhry Moonis Elahi
FIA arrests two suspects Nawaz Bhatti & Mazhar Abbas in the case
Moonis Elahi says we will not stop our support for the PTI or for Imran Khan
Sana Sanaullah says Moonis Elahi must not express such annoyance & must know that this is a gift from Imran Khan
Says no raid would be conducted for the arrest of Moonis Elahi
LAHORE ( Web News )
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has registered a money laundering case against PML-Q leader and former federal minister Chaudhry Moonis Elahi and others, it emerged on Wednesday.
Subsequently, Moonis’ lawyer, Amir Saeed Rawn told a private TV channel that the FIA’s move would be challenged in the Lahore High Court as a case could “not be registered without a prior inquiry”. He also claimed that the case was based on “mala fide”.
According to the FIA’s first information report, the case against Elahi was registered on Tuesday under Sections 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of a common intention), 109 (punishment for abetment), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using a genuine forged document) of the Pakistan Penal Code, read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 and Section 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010.
State, through the FIA Corporate Crime Circle in Lahore, has been named as the complainant in the FIR.
According to the FIR, the FIA’s Anti-Corruption Circle in Lahore had registered an inquiry on August 7, 2020 pursuant to a report of the Sugar Inquiry Commission 2020.
The FIR said that in light of the report, the FIA was mandated by the federal government to probe financial and corporate frauds committed by various sugar mills, including Rahim Yar Khan (RYK)/Alliance Sugar Mills.
“During the ongoing probe against RYK/ Alliance Sugar Mills Group, it transpired that the following low-profile individuals — one of them had been at a very low level at the time — had jointly set up RYK Sugar Mills Ltd. in 2007/2008 at Rahim Yar Khan,” the FIR stated. It identified the individuals as Nawaz Bhatti and Mazhar Abbas.
The FIR added that the mill was “set up ostensibly by laundering funds from unexplained sources, including proceeds of financial crimes”.
According to the FIR, the mill’s capital increased by Rs720 million in 2008 but the source for these funds, as well as those required for the acquisition of land, import of plants and machinery and administrative expenses, remained “unexplained”.
Between 2011 and 2014, the FIR continued, Nawaz and Abbas, who held the majority of the mill’s shares at the time, disposed of their shares, but this transaction also remained unexplained.
“Record of banks examined so far has revealed that M. Nawaz Bhatti [Naid Qasid] and Mazhar Abbas had been signatory in multiple bank accounts with a turnover of Rs24 billion.”
The FIR further stated that their shares, after passing through intermediaries, were acquired by two special purpose vehicles (SPVs), including Bhatti’s nephew, Wajih Ahmed Khan Bhatti — who is an employee of the Punjab Assembly at present — and Cascade Tek Pvt Ltd.
An SPV is a subsidiary company that is formed to undertake a specific business purpose or activity.
“Both these SPVs are controlled by accused Ch Moonis Elahi (one directly and other one is controlled indirectly through his family member). This makes it evidently clear that accused M Nawaz Bhatti and Mazhar Abbass lent their identities and acted on behalf of Ch Moonis Elahi to disguise the origin and nature of ill-gotten funds/proceeds used to set up RYK Mills Ltd,” the FIR said.
It added that records had further revealed that “Makhdum Omar Shehryar (Executive Director of the then proposed RYK Mills Ltd) applied for issuance of NOC (non-objection certificate) for setting up the sugar mill through an application to the Secretary Industries, Punjab on June 25, 2007 which was accordingly approved by the Ministry of Industries Punjab and CM Punjab Office in quick succession”.
Incumbent Punjab Assembly Speaker and Moonis’ father Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi was the Punjab chief minister at the time and his “culpability will be determined during the investigation”, the FIR said.
Moreover, it added that Shahryar and his brother-in-law Tarik Jawaid collectively held 30.59 percent shares in the mill as of 2020, and “the origin and nature of their investment of ill-gotten funds/proceeds is also unexplained”.
The inquiry substantiated, the FIR said, that Moonis, Bhatti, Abbas, Shehryar, Jawaid, Wajih and Muhammad Khan Bhatti have been involved in money laundering, the FIR concluded. Muhammad Khan Bhatti is performing duty as the Secretary Punjab Assembly.
After the case was registered, a defiant Moonis said in a tweet: “Do whatever you want. I appeared before [the FIA] and will appear again. Wait for me, I am coming.” While he did not name the FIA in the tweet that was in Urdu, he used the FIA hashtag, along with another one translating to “imported government is unacceptable”.
The FIA has also arrested two suspects– Nawaz Bhatti and Mazhar Abbas – in the case related to money laundering on Wednesday. The investigations from the arrested accused are underway.
Meanwhile speaking to a private TV channel on Wednesday, Moonis Elahi said he “received no notice” from the FIA and “would have appeared” before the FIA if he had. He said that the investigation agency had “simply issued a press release” and he only found out from the media on Tuesday that an FIR had been filed against him.
“They missed a legal step and then sent out teams to arrest me,” Moonis said. “I told them why are you dispatching teams for my arrest. I myself will come over to the FIA office. Fuel has become so costly as it is, why waste it?” he added.
The PML-Q leader said that as he speaks, he is on his way from Islamabad to Lahore to go to FIA’s office.
“There they may question me, arrest me, torture me if they will. But these idiots must understand that despite all these moves, we will not stop our support for the PTI or for Imran Khan,” Moonis said.
Speaking of Hamza Shahbaz, he said: “Was this his purpose of becoming chief minister (Punjab)? To issue arrest warrants against me?” “They are simply punishing us for the fact that we did not listen to them.”
Moonis was referring to attempts by the coalition parties to gain PML-Q’s support to oust the former prime minister, who was voted out in a no-confidence vote. He said that he had “never heard” of the other two suspects in the case and that he has declared his investment in sugar mills.
Meanwhile, Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah Khan said that Moonis Elahi “must not express such annoyance and must know that this is a gift from Imran Khan that these revelations came to the fore due to the probe by the Sugar Inquiry Commission”.
Rana Sanaullah said that the inquiry was completed in Imran Khan’s tenure and it was “decided at the time that Moonis Elahi be arrested”.
“Moonis Elahi himself told me [this] when we went over to his house for talks regarding chief ministership and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi was present. He (Moonis) himself said attempts were made to arrest him,” the interior minister said, also quoting Moonis as saying: “Just look at what the prime minister has become.”
He said that the RYK Sugar Mills were bought under the names of two people: Muhammad Khan Bhatti, “who came to Chaudhry Pervez Elahi when he was in Grade 4 and is now a Grade 21 officer” and the other, Mazhar Hussain, was a student then, and was later made an employee of the land record department.
According to Rana Sanaullah, between 2011 and 2013, a private company was formed by Moonis Elahi which “purchased all the shares” of the sugar mill. “This is a clear case of 2+2=4. This is ill-gotten wealth and is money laundering,” he said.
Rana Sanaullah said that no raid would be conducted for the arrest of Moonis Elahi, adding that Moonis Elahi should come he will be given respect and all documents will be placed in front of him and he will be given full opportunity to submit his reply. He said that if Moonis Elahi has not received letter from FIA then he will receive notice. He said that the inquiry started by former PM Imran Khan into the Rahim Yar Khan Sugar Mills was near completion and we have just completed it and reviewed it, adding that it has been proved that this money was not of Nawaz Bhatti and Mazhar Hussain but was of Chaudhry Sahiban. He said that the inquiry against other sugar mills is at initial stage, adding that Imran Khan had love with Parvez Elahi and Moonis Elahi so he completed the inquiry against them with fast pace.