Sunday September 24, 2023

NAB makes no progress in money laundering aspect of Multan Metro

January 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has made no headway in the money laundering case of Multan Metro Bus Project (MMBP) despite taking over documentary evidence from Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) almost a year ago.

The FIA during its probe had traced 49 different transactions worth $2.8 million by two Pakistani companies Horizon International and AG International that were used to launder money from Pakistan to China. The agency had also succeeded in tracing the owners of these companies and obtained record of these transactions. However, the moment FIA reached one of the central characters of this money laundering scam, the case was suddenly taken over by NAB in December 2017 in mysterious manners. All the developments on the case as to who was behind money laundering were stopped then and there. Whether any progress has been made by the bureau to catch the real characters of this plot is yet to be known.

According to reliable sources, the NAB hasn’t even explored the money laundering aspect of Multan Metro Bus project as the bureau has neither contacted the owners of two Pakistani companies nor the central characters who made fake letters of former Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and two senators. The NAB has also not investigated who Faisal Subhan was — one of the central character in Multan Metro Bus scandal who claimed that he is the front man of Shahbaz Sharif.

“Instead of probing who laundered $2.8 million from Pakistan to China, the NAB has changed the direction of its investigation from money laundering to other aspects. The NAB has rather started harassing the Pakistani contractors who worked on this project. The contractors association has already written a letter to Chairman NAB and complained about witch-hunting by the anti-corruption body. This raises serious concerns that NAB is deliberately avoiding investigation into who laundered such a huge amount of money from Pakistan to China in the name of Multan Metro Bus project. The NAB should have probed that who facilitated the Chinese company which claimed that it worked on Multan Metro Bus project and who aided them to get the fake letters attested by Foreign Office of Pakistan,” said the source.

The News contacted one of the owners of these companies last week and asked whether NAB has approached him for investigation into this matter. Muhammad Aslam Khan, the owner of Horizon International, confirmed that no one has contacted him from NAB. According to him, only FIA had contacted him twice and he had submitted the required document to them.

When NAB spokesperson was sent a detailed questionnaire to know the progress made by bureau in the money laundering aspect of Multan Metro Bus inquiry, the spokesperson said that he has forwarded the queries to relevant quarters. This scribe reminded the spokesperson every day for NAB’s response but after five days this correspondent has been told that NAB cannot respond to the queries. “Since the inquiry is ongoing. Therefore official proceedings of the inquiry cannot be shared with media. Media is requested to kindly avoid speculations,” the spokesperson said.

With the help of documentary evidence collected by FIA, the NAB could have easily caught all the central characters of money laundering in Multan Metro Bus project but sources claim NAB has almost stopped exploring this aspect. The bureau has neither approached Salman Sehgal nor Ijaz Sheikh who facilitated the Chinese company Yabaite’s owner in Pakistan and helped him in creating fake documents. The accountability bureau has also not investigated that who facilitated them in the Foreign Office to get these fake letters attested. The Punjab Police and Special Monitoring Unit of Punjab government had confiscated the computer of one Salman Sehgal. The forensic audit of Salman Sehgal had helped the provincial government into the investigation. However, NAB has not probed this aspect nor it took over the computer of Salman Sehgal, said the source.

It is pertinent to mention here that Multan Metro Bus project made headlines when China Securities Regulatory Authority (CSRC) wrote a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan to determine whether a Chinese company Yabaite worked on Multan Metro project. The matter came into limelight when CSRC presented statement of a suspicious character Faisal Subhan who claimed to be front man of former CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif.

The SECP then handed over the case to FIA to probe whether any money was sent to the Chinese company Yabaite from Pakistan or not. However, when the FIA traced $2.8 million transactions and reached the central character of this scam, NAB took over this case and since then no progress has been made on the aspect of money laundering.

NAB was sent following questions on Thursday January 10 but after delaying tactics by NAB spokesperson which is a routine matter for him, the anti-corruption body gave no response:

1. Whether NAB took over the record of money laundering in Multan Metro Bus from FIA or not?

2. Whether the transaction details of $2.8 million by two Pakistan companies Horizon International and AG International from June 2016 to March were handed over by FIA to NAB or not?

3. Whether NAB has summoned Aslam Khan the owner of Horizon International who was involve in laundering money from Pakistan to China and taken him into custody for further investigation or not?

4. Whether NAB summoned Sheikh Ijaz Asghar the co-director of Yabaite Pakistan and interrogated him in Multan Metro Bus Project or not?

5. Whether NAB has summoned or arrested Mr. Salman Sehgal who confessed before Punjab Police that he made fake letters of CM Punjab, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed and Senator Kulsoom Perveen?

6. Whether any investigation Officer of NAB attended the bail hearings of Ijaz Asghar Sheikh and Salman Sehgal?

7. Why did NAB not opposed the bail of Ijaz Asghar Sheikh and Salman Sehgal and why they were given clean chit by NAB?

8. Whether NAB confiscated the computers and other record of Soneri Bank for forensic audit?

9. Despite passage of almost 11 months since NAB took over the case from FIA, how many people involved in money laundering related to this scam have been summoned or arrested by NAB?