LAHORE: PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi, in his response to Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) questionnaire in a money laundering case, has denied any links to Nawaz Bhatti and Mazhar Abbas — the “low-profile individuals” who, according to the FIA, lent Elahi their identities to set up the RYK Sugar Mills Ltd from his allegedly ill-gotten funds.
The FIA had booked Elahi and seven others, including Bhatti and Abbas, on charges of money laundering in a case pertaining to a sugar scam on June 14.
In his response submitted on Thursday to the 33 questions asked by the agency, Elahi denied knowing Bhatti and Abbas or the fact that they were government employees.
He also answered in the negative to a host of other questions about the duo, such as whether Elahi or his family had helped Abbas secure his job; if he knew that the two held shares in Rahim Yar Khan (RYK) /Alliance Sugar Mills; if he had provided any financial assistance to them; and if he knew that Bhatti was a signatory of at least 32 bank accounts with a credit turnover of around Rs24 billion, etc.
Elahi also denied using the influence of his father — former Punjab chief minister Parvez Elahi — to secure a no-objection certificate for setting up RYK Sugar Mills.
In response to the question on the facts of the case indicating that an orchestrated scheme of “corporate layering” was employed to disguise the beneficiaries of RYK Sugar Mills, the PML-Q leader said the allegation was “incorrect and misconceived” as all his shares were “duly declared”.
He said that he did not have any role in the establishment of the RYK Group.
According to the FIA’s first information report, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the case against Elahi and the others was registered under Sections 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of a common intention), 109 (punishment for abetment), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using a genuine forged document) of the Pakistan Penal Code, read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 and Section 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010.
According to the FIR, the FIA’s Anti-Corruption Circle in Lahore had registered an inquiry on August 7, 2020 pursuant to a report of the Sugar Inquiry Commission 2020. The FIR said that in light of the report, the FIA was mandated by the federal government to probe financial and corporate frauds committed by various sugar mills, including RYK/Alliance Sugar Mills.
The FIR said the no-objection certificate for setting up the mills was issued in June 2007 when Parvez Elahi was the chief minister of Punjab, thus his “culpability will be determined during the investigation”.
“During the ongoing probe against RYK/ Alliance Sugar Mills Group, it transpired that the following low-profile individuals — one of them had been at a very low level at the time — had jointly set up RYK Sugar Mills Ltd. in 2007/2008 at Rahim Yar Khan,” the FIR stated.
It identified the individuals as Nawaz Bhatti and Mazhar Abbas.
The FIR added that the mill was “set up ostensibly by laundering funds from unexplained sources, including proceeds of financial crimes”.