In a rare development, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday admitted before a banking court judge that it had “mistakenly” accused PTI disgruntled leader Jahangir Tareen of money laundering in one of the first information reports (FIRs) it lodged against Tareen.
As a banking court started proceedings on the pre-arrest bail applications submitted by Jahangir Tareen and his son Ali Tareen, the FIA counsel told the court that the agency “inadvertently committed a mistake” by claiming that banking transactions were made in favour of the accused using fake accounts.
“The truth is that no fake accounts have been used in making transactions with the JWD sugar mills owned by Jahangir Tareen,” the counsel said in the open court.
In FIR 18/2021, the FIA had accused that fake accounts had been used in transactions with the JWD. It had claimed that an employee of the JWD had been withdrawing Rs.2.2billion from JWD accounts and had been depositing this money in accounts of the Tareens as well as associated companies for 3 years.
This practice, the FIA had said, falls under money laundering.
After this admission, Tareen’s counsel Salman Safdar said it was for the first time that a state institution had admitted that part of an FIR was wrong “as otherwise the prosecution utilizes all its powers to establish the FIR’s content”.
“This is their first admission. The truth is that all the FIRs registered against my clients have nothing to do with reality. These FIRs have been registered merely to humiliate my clients,” he added.
The FIA later requested the court to refer the case to a district and sessions court, arguing that the case does not fall under the jurisdiction of a banking court.
The judge, while granting an interim bail to Tareen and Ali till May 3, adjourned the proceedings till that date, noting that he will also announce order on the request to transfer the case also on May 3.
Tareen was once considered a close friend of Prime Minister Imran Khan. However, the PTI’s former secretary general was side-lined after an inquiry report about a sugar crisis accused him of benefiting the most from a steep hike in prices of the commodity in January 2020.
As the FIA intensified its probe into Tareen’s alleged role in the sugar crisis, a number of PTI lawmakers started rallying around him with speculations about emergence of a possible forward bloc in the PTI.
The sugar inquiry commission – led by the FIA – had accused sugar mill owners of earning illegal profits worth billions of rupees through unjustified price hikes, benami transactions, tax evasion, misuse of subsidy and purchasing sugarcane off the books.
The commission had also pointed out that the country’s top politicians – including PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif, PTI’s Jahangir Tareen and Khusro Bakhtiar, PML-Q’s Moonis Elahi and PPP’s Asif Ali Zardari – were also among the beneficiaries of the crisis
PM Imran Khan warned
PTI MNAs and MPAs, who accompanied Tareen to the banking court in show of support with the estranged leader, warned Prime Minister Imran Khan while speaking to the media, saying “if the things remained unchanged, if humiliation of Jahangir Tareen continues with the same pace, then we can take any extreme decision”.
“We believe that Jahangir Tareen is being humiliated through such cowardly moves, nothing could be earned through such ways… this matter should be brought to its logical conclusion,” demanded PTI lawmaker Raja Riaz.
“We are warning Prime Minister Imran Khan for the last time, if the things are not wrapped up then they may get out of control.”
‘No wrongdoing committed’
Disgruntled ruling PTI leader Tareen, while addressing the press conference, said he did not commit any wrongdoing and earned all money through legal means.
Tareen said the aim of such all cases and inquiry against him is merely aimed at humiliating him and to sideline him from the mainstream politics.
“Not even a single word about sugar scam has been mentioned in the FIR registered against me,” he said.
He also claimed that the purpose of sugar inquiry is not to bring down its prices but to humiliate him.
“I will fight the cases and will prove my innocence in the courts,” Tareen said.