In the money laundering case against PML-Q leader Chaudhary Moonis Elahi, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has made the startling revelation that a Naib Qasid (peon) and a class-IV official established a Rahim Yar Khan (RYK) mills with Rs720 million.
The FIA’s investigations revealed that Muhammad Nawaz Bhatti-the brother of Punjab Assembly Speaker Muhammad Khan Bhatti, and other accused Mazhar Abbas set up the mills in June 2007. They said that the mills were set up ostensibly by laundering funds from unexplained sources, including proceeds of financial crimes. The agency claimed that both suspects, Muhammad Nawaz Bhatti and Mazhar Abbas, owned multiple bank accounts with a credit turnover of approximately Rs24 billion rupees. Later, they sold out the mills to Matrix-a company owned by PML-Q leader Chaudhary Moonis Elahi.
After passing through certain intermediaries, 34.83 % shares of RYK/ Alliance were acquired by two Special Purpose Vehicles [SPVs], namely Cascade Tek Pvt. Ltd. [18.63%] & Axe Capital Pvt. Ltd. [16.20%] while 9.56 % shares were acquired by the nephew of Muhammad Khan Bhatti [presently an employee of Punjab Assembly]. Both these SPVs are controlled by accused Ch Moonis Elahi [one directly and the other one is controlled indirectly through a family member).
It made it evidently clear that accused 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,” read the FIR registered by the FIA. The mills, the FIA investigation revealed, were set up during 2007-08-the period when Chaudhary Pervez Elahi was Punjab Chief Minister. “Though Chaudhary Pervez Elahi was not nominated in the FIR there is space for him to control him if he continues to create troubles for the PML-N government in Punjab,” said the sources privy to the development.
The agency said that Makhdum Omar Shehryar [Executive Director of the then proposed RYK Mills Ltd] applied for issuance of NOC for setting up the sugar mill through an application to Secretary Industries, Punjab on June 25, 2007, which was accordingly approved by the Ministry of Industries Punjab and Punjab CM Office in quick succession. Ch. Pervaiz Elahi was the Chief Minister of Punjab at that time. His culpability would be determined during the investigation. It has also transpired that Makhdum Omar Shahryar and Tarik Jawaid [brother-in-law of the former collectively held 30.59 % shares in RYK Mills Ltd. as of 2020. The origin and nature of their investment of funds/proceeds were also unexplained.
The FIA said that Moonis Elahi, Muhammad Nawaz Bhatti, Mazhar Abbas Makhdum Omar, Shehryar, Muhammad Sadiq Jawaid, Ahmad Khan Bhatti, and Muhammad Khan Bhatti were found involved in offences. “That mills were sold to Chaudhary. So all the roads lead to Rome,” they added. The agency said that Muhammad Nawaz and Mazhar Abbas owned 66 percent share in the mills, which was a matter of surprise as to how could a naib Qasid and class-IV official set up such sugar mills. The agency’s investigations revealed that “the sources of these funds and those required for the acquisition of land, import of plants/ machinery etc and setting up/administrative expenses are unexplained”.
The FIA also claimed the “accused persons namely Muhammad Nawaz Bhatti and Mazhar Abbasi who had been holding majority shares of 66 percent disposed of their shares from 2011 to 2014 but the sale and purchase consideration is also unexplained”. Both Nawaz and Mazhar Abbas were nominated in the FIR registered against Chaudhary Moonish Elahi, and they both were arrested by the agency on June 15, 2022.
The FIA officials produced both the suspects before a judicial magistrate. Prosecutor Munim Bashir Chaudhary was representing the FIA, who presented arguments in the case. Chaudhary asked how a naib qasid could set up a sugar mill. He said they sold the shares to Chaudhary Moonis Elahi, so documentary evidence was required to unearth the money that was laundered and to recover the banking instruments. He said the matter was of complex nature in terms of investigation, and therefore, sufficient time of 14 days is required to complete the probe into the case.