Money laundering case a gambit to divert attention from Punjab budget: Moonis

LAHORE: PML-Q leader and former federal minister Moonis Elahi on Thursday claimed that the PML-N government engineered the money laundering case against him through the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) merely to divert attention from the Punjab budget for 2022-23.

Talking to the media after his appearance in FIA office here, Moonis Elahi said the PML-N government did all this so attention could be diverted from the budget in the Punjab Assembly.

“If I tell the PML-N today that we will support you, all cases will be closed,” the PML-Q leader claimed.

He pointed out that the FIA has given him a questionnaire. “However, the FIA’s purpose is not to conduct an investigation but to arrest me,” he declared, adding the FIA had not issued him any notice till date and that he told the agency he would appear again if summoned.

Elahi added that all information regarding his finances was available in his tax returns.

Earlier, he remained with FIA investigators and answered their questions for four long hours.

On Tuesday, the agency’s corporate crime circle booked Moonis, Punjab Assembly Secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti and six others on charges of money laundering in an alleged sugar scam. The state has been named as the complainant in the first information report (FIR).

Subsequently, the PML-Q leader reached the FIA office on Lahore’s Temple Road on Wednesday evening to join the investigation. He was, however, sent back.

On Thursday at around 8:30am, Moonis arrived at the agency’s office again. He was accompanied by lawyer Amir Saeed Rawn who said that the PML-Q leader will not apply for pre-arrest bail in this case.

He informed the FIA didn’t serve them any notice before registration of the case, adding that his client had completed legal consultations over the matter and would soon approach courts.

BHATTI GRANTED INTERIM PRE-ARREST BAIL

A special court on Thursday granted interim pre-arrest bail to a co-accused Wajid Khan Bhatti till June 22 in a case registered by the FIA against PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi and others on the charges of money laundering.

The court ordered the co-accused for furnishing surety bonds worth Rs500,000 for availing the relief. The court also sought a report from the FIA on the next date of hearing.

Special Court (offence in banks) Judge Muhammad Aslam Gondal heard the bail application of the co-accused.

Separately, a sessions court in Lahore approved the four-day physical remand of Nawaz Bhatti and Mazhar Abbas — also named in the case — at the request of FIA prosecutor Munim Bashir Chaudhry.

THE CASE

The FIA has registered the case against Moonis Elahi, PA Secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti, Muhammad Nawaz Bhatti, Muhammad Ali, Mazhar Abbas, Makhdoom Omar Shehryar, Tarik Jawaid and Wajid Khan Bhatti under Section 5(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act 1947 read with sections 34, 109, 420, 468, 471 of the PPC and 3/4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010 in connection with the affairs of the RYK/Alliance Sugar Mills Group.

The FIR says the no-objection certificate for setting up the mills was issued in June 2007 when Pervaiz Elahi was the chief minister of Punjab, thus his “culpability will be determined during investigation”. The government has also left room in the complaint to lay hands on PA speaker Pervaiz Elahi later.

However, sources in the PML-N claimed that the decision to register the FIR against the scion of the Chaudhrys was taken after consultation among the Sharifs. “The consent of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif was also sought from London,” he said, adding the Sharif family was of the view that since Elahi was creating a lot of trouble for the Hamza-led government in Punjab, it was time to fix him and his family members.

 

 

Saleem Jadoon
News Editor at Pakistan Today

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