LAHORE: As many as 20 more satta players (speculators) have been found to be behind the rise in sugar prices while a report containing 17,500 pages from three WhatsApp groups of speculators has also been prepared by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Lahore, Pakistan Today learnt on Sunday.
The FIA Punjab Zone-1 directorate has also written a letter to FIA Sindh Zone 1&2, Karachi director to crack down on the accused.
According to the letter, the price of sugar was ramped up fraudulently by speculators and in this regard the public was harmed to the tune of Rs110 billion whereas the speculators’ contacts were through 16 active secret WhatsApp groups.
“The director FIA Inquiry team and investigation teams have discovered irrefutable evidence of clandestine satta through various 16 secret WhatsApp groups whereby sugar prices were being dishonestly and fraudulently ramped up. The satta mafia, acting in active connivance with each other, operating directly and through their front-person fraudulently escalated the ex-mill prices of sugar (essential commodity especially for the poor) from Rs69.05 per kg (March 2021) to Rs90/Kg (March 2021) and defrauded the masses at least Rs110 billion, during this period. The satta mafia managed this dishonest and fraudulent escalation amidst a hoax of impending sugar shortages, when sufficient sugar-stocks were lying in sugar-mills and godowns,” the letter stated.
The letter also revealed that black money investors were also associated with speculators and sugar mills.
“Examination of sugar satta WhatsApp groups, seized by FIA Lahore u/s 14 AMLA 2010, reveal that over 20 satta players of Karachi/Sindh were actively participating in satta with the respective sugar-mills and in active connivance with satta players of Punjab. The digital evidence recovered from the communication-log of three main WhatsApp satta groups (Pakistan Sugar Group, Sugar Merchants, Sugar Traders Group STX), wherein over 20 satta players of Karachi/Sindh were actively participating is also being transmitted to your good office, through official e-mail and digital means. The evidence, if carefully examined will reveal the black money investors associated with sugar Satta Mafia and mills as well,” letter concluded.
Earlier in the day, it emerged that the Karachi chapter of the FIA arrested seven brokers suspected to be involved in artificial shortage and price hikes of sugar.
The Commercial Banking Circle (CBC) of the agency said that the brokers were acting with the connivance of sugar mills’ owners.
The accused were operating through electronic means to maneuver, manipulate and artificially hike sugar prices, amidst rumours of impending sugar shortages while stocks were lying unsold or sold/unlifted in mills and godowns, thereby, creating an artificial demand and supply gap.
Furthermore, the suspects were also indulged in opening/operating fake/unrevealed third-party accounts to conceal/disguise the illegitimate crime proceedings. The said accounts have been seized.
The agency also recovered mobile phones, registers, and laptops, etc. An FIR has also been registered and further investigations were underway.