FIA issues further notice to Shehbaz Sharif, wants response by October 8
LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), investigating the infamous sugar scandal, served another notice on the president of the Muslim League of Pakistan-Nawaz (PML-N) and the opposition leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and asked him to answer 20 questions on or before October 08, Bol News learned.
The FIA Lahore team wrote in the notice that these 20 questions are the same as posed to Shahbaz Sharif in the June 15 convening notice as well as during his appearance before the Sugar Investigation Team on June 22.
The questions that were sent to the President of the PML-N by the FIA are as follows:
Q-1. What do you have to say about the facts that deposits over Rs. 25 billion [from 2008 to 2018] were made to bank accounts operated on behalf of peons and employees of Ramzan Sugar Mills Ltd [RSML]? Do you think this is organized financial crime activity? [It is a non-accusatory question]. Q-2. Do you know the framework envisaged by the 40 FATF recommendations on the fight against national and international money laundering?
Q-3. Do you know the term politically exposed person [PEP]? Do you consider your family members to be PEPs? Do you think RSML, ASML and their associated companies belong to PEPs? Q-4. Do you know that the FATF recommends enhanced due diligence for PEPs and also emphasizes an early detection system (red flags) regarding the use of PEPs by financial institutions and DNFBPs in accordance with the Article 52 of the UNCAC?
Q-5. What do you think could be the reasons for the dismal failure of SBP, Banks & FMU, etc. [from 2008 to 2018] to raise red flags with regard to accounts operated in the name of “peons and employees” of RSML from 2008 to 2018? [It is a non-accusatory question]. Q-6. Do you know that in international and national law, if it turns out that the PEPS / civil servants (beneficially) hold assets (including pecuniary resources) which are not satisfactorily justified by their declared income , the burden of proof that these assets were not generated by the gratuities while the exercise of the civil service rests with the PEPS / civil servants?
Q-7. Mian M. Hamza Shahbaz Sharif (CEO of RSML) transferred responsibility for account operations to his younger brother Suleman Shehbaz Sharif? Do you agree or disagree with his position? Q-8. What were the reasons for the escape of Suleman Shehbaz (in the United Kingdom on October 27, 2018) and the flight of key employees such as Malik Maqsood, peon (in the United Arab Emirates on March 14, 2018), Syed M Tahir Naqvi (in United Arab Emirates November 7, 2018) and cash boys like Masroor Anwar, Shoaib Qamar and Muzammil Raza etc? Shouldn’t they all be there to explain the transactions in question?
Q-9. Do you know Mr. Mushtaq Cheeniwala exclusive broker RSML / ASML? He revealed to the Sugar Investigation Team that around Rs. 4 billion of the total deposits of over Rs. 25 billion came from unofficial sales of sugar / molasses etc. (which amounts to tax evasion amounting to money laundering and concerns the RBF). The remaining amount (over 21 billion rupees) came from “foreign sources and the real source of these huge funds can only be explained by the Sharif family.” Do you think Hamza Shahbaz as CEO of RSML is likely to explain these transactions?
Q-10. How do you think the checks amounted to over Rs. 10 million presented to you by Aurangzeb Butt (chairman of the Gujrat beatification committee) at 180-H Model Town Lahore (April 2013) have been deposited on the one of those accounts which was operated in the name of the peon Gulzar A Khan (late) RSML?
Q-11. An account (linked to the UBL-Omni BISP microfinance disbursement account) makes payments to the bank accounts of Malik Maqsood (Peon RSML) & Chaudhry Sugar Mills Ltd. Do you think that such transfers constitute money laundering?
Q-12. Fractional and structured deposits (to avoid FMU’s CTR reporting threshold) of more than Rs. 8 billion, including those from covert workers / innocent victims (of the shadow bank) and spurious entities were found in these accounts? Do you think that such deposits are indicative of money laundering? Q-13.
There is evidence of deposits in these accounts by parties unrelated to the sugar trade, including cotton mills, wheat mills, rice mills, gasoline and CNGS pumps, oil and lube stores. , iron and steel furnaces, drugs and pharmaceuticals, jewelers, government officials, contractors / builders, real estate agents, electronics sellers, shoe and clothing stores, iron / steel stores, carpet dealers, paint , sanitary ware and kiryanas, restaurants, tire shops, mobile shops, toy shops, travel agents, dried fruit shops, furniture shops, photo shops and auto workshops, etc.
Don’t you think that such receipts on the accounts of RSML employees and employees carry a very high risk of money laundering?
Q-14. Almost all (over 90%) of the money deposited (read in disguise) to these accounts was withdrawn during structured cash withdrawals (to avoid the CTR threshold) mainly by a single cash-boy who switched to the underground. Do you think this is a good business technique (since you have been CEO of Chaudhry Sugar Mills Ltd and Director / Managing Agent of Hudaibiya Paper Mills Ltd). Or do you think that structured cash withdrawals of such huge amounts can potentially be used to break the track of the use of funds?
Q-15. There is credible information available from the Sugar Investigation Team that Suleman Shehbaz Sharif received “bags of money” at your residence / camp office (96-H Model Town Lahore). Then, Syed M. Tahir Naqvi transported the money to the “Cash-Branch” located at the head office of Sharif group companies, 55-K Model Town, Lahore. Then this money was used for deposits (placement / layering) in various family businesses / personal accounts, retirement loans, FCY purchases in the local market, and remittances through banks and IMVTS. Do you think that such a pattern of using the aforementioned (huge) cash amounts to money laundering?
Q-16. Are you aware that your family business has been reported to make payments to a (bogus) foreign company, for import payments that are not your direct responsibility? However, do you think that if a disguised transfer is found to be money laundering?
Q-17. Do you know that a subcontractor engaged in civil works and various development works at the new Islamabad airport gave money to your son and then to your family business entity? However, do you think that if such a layered transfer is justified, it is money laundering?
Q-18. Information available from the Sugar Investigation Team reveals that interbank transfers were made to Sherrards Solicitors LLP Holborn London. Remittances for family maintenance expenses in UK have also been made to Afzaal Bhatti, KBM UK Ltd, Waqar Ahmed and Ms Nargis Waqar, Reshma Bhola, Hassan Bhola, Assenje Bhola and various others? Do you think the management of RSML and associated companies is required to truthfully and fully disclose all overseas remittances to the sugar investigation team?
Q-19. Does Suleman Shehbaz Sharif (to your knowledge) own or have beneficially owned or owned businesses (registered at Companies House) in Birmingham, London, anywhere in UK continental or in one of the British Overseas Territories / Isles.
Q-20. Have you ever been to any of the following locations including the British Overseas Territories and Isles, Switzerland or Delaware / Texas in the United States?
The FIA team asked Shehbaz Sharif to answer these questions no later than October 8 so that the investigative team can file their response in court at the next court date, i.e. – say October 9. According to the FIA, the notices were sent to Shehbaz. Sharif’s residence in Lahore as well as his office in Islamabad.