NAB hesitant to nab minister who ‘ballooned to billions’
ISLAMABAD: He was simply a landlord. The annual income of entire family was around Rs60 million. His one brother was employee of a business tycoon. But this was the financial profile before he ventured into national politics. Then he won elections in early 2000, joined the federal cabinet and the family’s assets “ballooned to billions of rupees”. The present worth of the family assets is now over Rs100 billion.
The person under question is also part of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet, holding a prized lucrative portfolio. His younger brother is an important minister in the provincial cabinet. Yet anotherbrother who isn’t part of the minister’s family in Nadra data (but in the land revenue record) is major shareholders of all the newly set up businesses along with mother. He was an employee of a tycoon earlier.
In September last year, NAB headquarters assigned an investigation against the minister on the basis of a complaint laden with allegations. The complaint verification was authorised to the regional NAB office. It took three months to complete the process and report back.
Not only the assets beyond known means were found, the regional office recommended full-fledged inquiry against the minister. NAB headquarters has since been sitting on this report. No inquiry has been ordered, The News has duly confirmed.
In six years of the last decade, the minister’s family did a roaring investment. It set up four sugar mills, five power generation companies, four trading companies including one in London, one ethanol manufacturing company and two others. “Their agricultural property increased from 5,702 kanals (712 acres) to 7,780 kanals (972 acres) meaning thereby an increase of 2,078 kanals (260 acres) in short span, along with 6-7 residential houses and plots in different cities,” according to complaint verification report sent by the regional office to the NAB headquarters.
A couple of properties the minister purchased in his name in Lahore DHA has not been declared in the nomination papers, according to this report which further reveals that the “family received a foreign remittance of approx Rs979 million during 2011-2018.” Current market value of the assets of the minister’s family (who live in a joint family setting) is more than Rs100 billion, the report has revealed.
How did this land-owning family jump into the club of top industrialists remains a mystery that NAB Headquarters is reluctant to resolve at the moment. No bank loan was taken for building this empire, the investigators concluded who say that further assets can be traced if an inquiry is ordered and the accused are investigated. This is what has been found so far is on the basis of corporate record, tax declarations, revenue documents, banking information and travel history.
The minister himself is a frequent foreign traveler. In the last five years alone, he went abroad for as many as 189 times which means more than thrice a month. What he does there will remain unknown until he is taken into custody for investigation. His number of brothers varies in different record. Nadra data shows the minister has only one brother (who is now a provincial minister) whereas the land record suggests he has two brothers.
The rise of this family has been explained in the following lines in the NAB’s complaint verification report: “From 2006, the family’s assets suddenly showed unnatural increase. An agricultural family from ‘no-where’ became industrialist and started investing amount beyond there known sources of income in corporate sector.” In the business details, sugar mills merited top mention. They are four. In each case, the minister’s mother and brother are shareholders.
One of them set up in 2006 has authorised capital of Rs1 billion. The minister’s mother and brother are its shareholders. Another set up in 2007 has an authorised capital of Rs2 billion; again the minister’s mother and brother (and his wife) are shareholders. Third one was started in 2016; the last one’s founding date is not mentioned. This brother running the sugar mills didn’t figure in Nadra record when investigators checked.
The minister has declared investment of Rs130 million in one sugar mill. He “seems to have a benami share” in other mills run by the family. “The whole family lives in a joint family system which is evident from their single residential addresses,” reads the NAB report, which has also given addresses.
The four trading companies are in the name of the minister’s brother; one of them was set up in London. Five power generation companies are also in the name of the minister’s brother who appears in Nadra record as his brother. The provincial minister-brother owns an ethanol manufacturing company.
As far as the land purchase is concerned, the investigation reveals that a total of 260 acres increase in agriculture land since 2004 in addition to 126 acres purchased for one sugar mill. Out of it, the minister himself got 216 acres “through a mutation of tamleek from his mother and she got that land by way of tamleek from her mother (the minister’s grandmother) and she got it by way of tamleek from her two daughters” who inherited impugned land after death of their father (the minister’s grandfather).
“Most of these alienation of tamleek took place on the same day and as I see an increase in the assets of subject’s (minister) maternal aunt in proceeding years as one of them purchased vehicles worth Rs16 million,” wrote the investigator in the report sent to NAB headquarters. He further notes, “The whole transaction seems dubious and needs a thorough probe as apparently it seems that a process of ‘layering’ has been adopted to hide the original beneficiary.”
Regarding the undeclared plots of the minister, the investigation report reads, “It is also pertinent to mention here that 269 kanal agricultural land purchased at……..in 1991, 36 kanals in…….2015 and 2 plots measuring 5 marla each purchased at Lahore DHA in November 2017 was not declared by subject person (the minister) in nomination papers submitted for contesting election 2018.” As many as 12 urban properties of the family purchased after 2004 are situated in DHAs of Lahore, Rawalpindi and Karachi in addition to Gulberg and Lahore Cantt.
Regarding the foreign remittances, the “FBR statements of the family including subject person show inflow of foreign remittances after 2011 which shows that this family has invested and can have properties abroad,” reads the report. The total amounts received through remittances is Rs797 millions of which Rs9 million landed into the minister’s account. The foreign company owned by the minister’s brother has declared assets of Rs1.06 billion in 2018 FBR statement in addition to bank accounts in City Bank, New York and Emirates NBA, Dubai.
In its concluding page, the report says that prior to his joining of national politics, the whole family including the minister’s brothers only owned lands “which was the only source of bread & butter” and after induction into the cabinet in 2004, “assets in the name of non-public office holder members of the subject’s family i.e. mother (house wife), brother having agriculture as the only one source of income ballooned to billions of rupees, despite their expenditure on more than 100 foreign trips, contesting elections.”