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Tuesday Jan 12 2021

Inter-ministerial committee formed to probe Broadsheet scandal: Shibli Faraz

Minister for Information Shibli Faraz addressing a press briefing following a meeting of the federal cabinet, in Islamabad, on January 12, 2021. — APP photo by Saeed-ul-Mulk
  • Broadsheet scandal to be probed by inter-ministerial committee and findings shared with the public soon
  • Auditor general's powers to be enhanced for greater transparency
  • Crackdown has begun against petrol pumps selling smuggled fuel

Minister for Information Shibli Faraz on Tuesday said that an inter-ministerial committee has been formed to probe the Broadsheet LLC scandal.

An interview of Broadsheet CEO Kaveh Moussavi has surfaced on YouTube in which he makes several claims regarding the firm's investigation into the assets of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif held abroad.

Read: Broadsheet CEO claims Nawaz Sharif offered bribe to stop probe against his assets

"This is a problem that started in 2000 when an NRO was given to PML-N and [PPP] and then it was as if the matter went into cold storage [...] 200 names were given [to the asset recovery firm] of people who illegally sent the country's wealth abroad.

"Different interviews have come forth and after the High Court's decision in England, an inter-ministerial committee has been formed to further dissect the matter," said Faraz.

Faraz said that the committee will not only minutely probe the fine points of the case, it will determine "how the country's wealth was looted, and how the firm, after it made important discoveries, was approached by someone said to be Nawaz Sharif's cousin to have the family's name removed from the matter, after which the CEO said 'we don't deal with crooks'".

The information minister said that those who "made a mockery out of the state institutions, hurt the nation's wealth and dragged the country into litigation which has caused great embarrassment" will be dealt with after the committee shares its own findings "soon".

According to Geo News, the prime minister, during the meeting urged the cabinet to see to it that the "truth is shared with the nation" in the Broadsheet case.

"You must tell the nation how these people attempted to negotiate with Broadsheet," PM Imran Khan said to the cabinet.

Auditor general's powers enhanced

According to Radio Pakistan, Faraz said that the cabinet also approved a bill under which the powers of the auditor general of Pakistan will be enhanced to ensure transparency.

He also said that automation and digitisation will be introduced in the office of the auditor general and issuance of cheques will be automated to prevent any kind of delay and fraud.

The minister vowed that the government is working hard to bring about institutional reforms and it was decided that these will be made public soon.

Crackdown against petrol smuggling

Furthermore, a crackdown has begun against petrol pumps selling smuggled petrol, Radio Pakistan reported, citing the information minister.

"A crackdown has started against petrol pumps involved in selling substandard smuggled petrol, which poses hazards not only to the environment, but also adversely impacts functionality of the vehicles," according to the publication.

Due to the sale of smuggled petrol, a loss of Rs180 billion rupees to the national exchequer has been witnessed, said Faraz, adding that 2,090 pumps have been identified that are involved in such dealings.

He said that so far 192 petrol pumps have been sealed for selling substandard smuggled oil and that these fueling stations have been directed to furnish record of their sale and purchase within one week.

PM orders new probe in Satti case if family unsatisfied

Faraz said that during the meeting, Minister for Planning Asad Umar  raised the matter of the death of Osama Nadeem Satti in police firing over which Prime Minister Imran Khan "expressed his strong displeasure and annoyance", according to Radio Pakistan.

The Joint Investigation Committee formed to investigate the killing has presented its report to the interior secretary, but the prime minister "expressed the resolve that new probe would be arranged if family members of the deceased youth are not satisfied with the JIT's findings", the national broadcaster added.

The minister said an inquiry will be organised "to the satisfaction of Osama Satti's family" and the culprits will be brought to justice.

About the incident: Five members of Islamabad's anti-terror squad arrested after young man allegedly shot dead

Policy of shortage of food commodities

Faraz said the prime minister also instructed the formulation of a policy within fifteen days to address the shortage of wheat and other food items in the country.

Broadsheet case

Broadsheet was hired by National Accountability Bureau during Pervez Musharraf’s government in 1999 to trace assets in the UK and USA of more than 200 Pakistanis (called "targets" in the contract) including generals, politicians, and businessmen — Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif as the chief targets.

The firm began pursuing legal action against NAB after it ended its contract in violation of the terms and conditions. The bureau was ordered by a London court to pay for damages, liabilities and interest accrued.

The London High Court’s Financial Division issued on December 17, 2020 a Final Third Party Order for payment to Broadsheet by December 30, 2020 — drawing the curtains on a case that has cost Pakistani taxpayers billions of rupees.

Pakistan then made a payment of $28.706 million (Rs4.59 billion) to the British firm after losing the long-running litigation at the London High Court.

Also read: Broadsheet LLC writes to NAB counsel in London seeking millions more