Riaz Haq writes this data-driven blog to provide information, express his opinions and make comments on many topics. Subjects include personal activities, education, South Asia, South Asian community, regional and international affairs and US politics to financial markets. For investors interested in South Asia, Riaz has another blog called South Asia Investor at http://www.southasiainvestor.com and a YouTube video channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkrIDyFbC9N9evXYb9cA_gQ
Friday, August 22, 2008
Zardari Corruption Probe Alive in Switzerland
While the news of President Musharraf's resignation and Asif Zardari's nomination for president occupy the big headlines, the renewed reports of the continuing Swiss probe into corruption allegations against Zardari are also vying for attention in the same week.
Swiss Judge Daniel Devaud has "confirmed to NEWSWEEK that the prosecutor's office was still investigating "aggravated" money-laundering offenses. Likewise, Jacques Python, a Geneva lawyer hired by Pakistan to work with Swiss authorities on the corruption case, said he had every reason to believe that the Geneva prosecutor's investigation was still open. And Alec Reymond, a lawyer who had represented Bhutto in connection with the Swiss investigation, also says the case is still open."
In 1997, after Zardari had been imprisoned on suspicion of corruption, Judge Devaud found that Bhutto herself had purchased a necklace worth 117,000 British pounds from a London jeweler—using cash and a bank transfer from the account of Bomer Finance, a British Virgin Islands company, which the magistrate said was jointly controlled by Bhutto and Zardari. (Her supporters claimed this allegation was based on trumped-up evidence supplied by her political enemies. Bhutto herself reportedly claimed her husband had bought the necklace but never told her about it). In 2003, Bhutto was convicted of money laundering in Switzerland and filed an appeal of her conviction by Swiss Court.
According to Newsweek's Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff, Judge Devaud's investigations in 2003 resulted in a series of court orders against Bhutto, Zardari and one of their Swiss lawyers, Jens Schlegelmilch. The orders, akin to misdemeanor guilty findings by a U.S. justice of the peace, were issued by the Swiss judge, an investigating magistrate in Geneva who has handled many high-profile investigations into the alleged laundering of corrupt payments through Switzerland by foreign politicians. The full text of Devaud's orders can be read at a NAB site here.
As to the outcome of the Swiss prosecution, some legal experts believe that Swiss prosecutors have three possible courses of action: close the case entirely, prosecute it by bringing it into a superior court or arrange the Swiss version of a plea bargain, in which money seized by Swiss authorities during the investigation probably would be confiscated or handed over to charity, but charges would be settled without any prison sentences.
In June 2008, a senior PPP leader and president of Pakistan's Supreme Court Bar Association, Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, who was interior minister in Benazir Bhutto's first government, told James Traub of the New York Times that most of the corruption and criminal cases against PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari which were dropped recently in Pakistan were justified, and that the PPP was a feudal political party led by a figure (Zardari) accused of corruption and violence. After a moment's reflection, Ahsan further added, “The type of expenses that she had and he has are not from sources of income that can be lawfully explained and accounted for.”
The charges of corruption will likely haunt Zardari for the rest of his life. The way for him to leave a better legacy is by renouncing the amnesty he received from President Musharraf and by offering to go through a fair trial to clear his name.
Bhutto Convicted of Money Laundering by Swiss Court
House of Graft by New York Times
Can the West Help End Corruption in Developing Nations? on Haq's Musings
Bhutto's New York Apartment , A Luxurious East Side Penthouse
Bhutto-Zardari Front Company in Virgin Island
Asif Zardari wikipedia entry
Financial Times on Zardari's mental health
Is Zardari Guilty? on PakAlumni Worldwide
Labels: Asif Zardari, Corruption, Pakistan, Swiss Judge
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What my hope is for a Zardari Presidency is the fact that he will use his connections, assets and network to build up Pakistan.
Zardari's Assets alone for the development of the nation can speed up the process by creating energy plants, etc. Pakistanis are very merciful people in general. It is the Military which is unforgiving and some political stake holders.
Your points are well observed and taken! I wish that justice could be done, but Switzerland is a developed nation with a strong legal system, yet it can't fight International corruption. We all wish for a better Pakistan.
Munzir Naqvi writes:
"Pakistanis are very merciful people in general."
I do not know which Pakistanis you are referring to but you have no clue of the reality. Please educate yourself a little more before making silly statements.
What I do read in your comments is acceptance to corrupt leaders and lack of knowledge period of the reality in Pakistan.
Please explain this story by Reuters is the case closed or shelved as the Zardari's lawyer Saverio Lembo welcomed Zappelli's decision to shelve the ...
Here's an interesting commentary on Zardari that I just received via email:
The sheaf of documents - from specialists ranging from a Dubai cardiologist to a New York psychiatrist - remains, however, and paints a picture of a man with multiple and severe physical and mental health problems.
In March last year, Stephen Reich, a New York state-based psychologist, diagnosed HIM with dementia, major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, problems stemming in part from being tortured while imprisoned in Pakistan. He could remember neither the birthdays of his wife and children, nor more than a handful of facts from two short stories he was read.
Another March 2007 diagnosis - by Philip Saltiel, a New York City-based psychiatrist - said emotional and neurological problems suffered by HIM because of medical treatment and imprisonment had resulted in "emotional instability" and "deficits in memory and concentration". Saltiel wrote: "I do not foresee any improvement in these issues for at least a year."
Reich re-examined HIM in June and September last year, each time reporting that he had made progress but still had problems that might make it impossible for him to testify in court.
Asif Ali Zardari (HIM)said that agreements with PML-N "are not holy like the holy Quran and the Hadith" and can be modified if circumstances change.
The bottom line is that Zardari is not a man of his word. It has nothing to do with the Quran or Hadith, this is a character issue and that Zardari lacks.
Taking things into perspective, we do not know the reality of the influence of the American channels (ref to emails from the US Ambassador to the UN and Zardari) that are negotiating for Zardari to take power.
Latest reports indicate the Swiss government has dropped all corruption charges against Zardari after Pak government refused to press charges pursuant to the NRO (amnesty granted by Musharraf). According to media reports from Pakistan, the PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif congratulated Zardari on the closure of the Swiss case. Ironically, the corruption charges against Zardari were initiated by Nawaz Sharif government in 1997. Both the leaders spoke to each other twice on telephone in last two days and discussed possibilities for the revival of their friendly relations.
The more things change, the more they remain the same, at least as far as accountability in Pakistan is concerned.
Zardari must be hanged in the street against these corruption
It was widely reported over a year ago that the corruption case was closed and $60 million handed back to Asif Zardari after the Pakistani Government withdrew its requests for judicial assistance from Switzerland and said it had no claim on his assets.
After an agreement in February this year by the Swiss banking giant UBS to pay $780 million and admit to criminal wrongdoing in selling offshore banking services that had enabled tax evasion, 14,700 Americans with foreign bank accounts have now come forward and admitted wrongdoing and agreed to pay taxes.
See the contrast? While US aided and abetted Zardari's corruption and tax evasion by sponsoring amnesty of Zardari by Musharraf, American attitude is very different when it comes to enforcing the law in US.
Here's more on the corrupt politicians and their families abusing power in Pakistan as reported by Daily Dawn today:
ISLAMABAD: Although the wife of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had settled her default case with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), she had been given ‘undue favour’ and asked to pay only Rs45.5 million against total liabilities of Rs570 million, sources in the NAB alleged on Saturday in an interview with Dawn.
A scrutiny of Fauzia Gilani’s case revealed that she had obtained two loans totalling Rs200 million from Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL), but she settled the case after committing ‘wilful default that prevailed over a decade’.
According to documents, the sources said, the principal of Rs200 million had swelled to Rs570 million as non-payment of instalments spanned a decade. However, she managed to settle the case by paying back Rs45.521 million.
The sources said she had obtained a loan of Rs120 million for Multan Edible Oil Extraction and another loan Rs77 million for Pak Green Fertilisers.
According to the NAB press release, the cases were settled by the ZTBL in pursuance of the Sindh High Court’s order of Oct 2, 2006, and March 17 of last year and a circular of the State Bank.
In consequence, ZTBL forwarded a request to NAB for withdrawal of the cases.
According to a report in a leading French newspaper, investigations have revealed that Zardari received 4.3 million dollars in kickbacks from the sale of three Agosta 90 submarines for 825 million euros (approx. 1.237 billion dollars at current exchange rate).
The newspaper said that Pakistani National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was alerted about the massive scam way back in 2001.
The British authorities told the NAB that Zardari had received several large payments into his Swiss bank accounts from a Lebanese businessman, Abdulrahman el-Assir, during 1994 and 1995.
According to a former official of French naval defence company DCN, French authorities had selected Assir to act as intermediary in the deal, The Nation reports.
He allegedly deposited a total of 1.3 million dollars in Zardari’s bank accounts between August 15 and 30, 1994, a month before the submarine deal was finalised. An additional 1.2 million dollars and 1.8 million dollars were deposited in Zardari’s account a year later.
The newspaper report also revealed that investigators believe that the non-payment of the full amount of the agreed kickbacks may have led to the deaths of 11 French national in a suicide attack in Karachi in 2002. (ANI)
Read more: http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/south-asia/zardari-received-millions-as-kickback-in-french-submarine-deal-report_100273313.html#ixzz0YMXa92Uc
Jang Group has just published a sensational story where Pakistani Ambassador to UK and NRO beneficiary Wajid Shams-ul-Hassan has paid a secret visit to Switzerland and has got possession of the original documents/evidence that were used President Asif Ali Zardari in money laundering case.
The News Reports:
Pakistani High Commissioner in Britain Wajid Shamsul Hasan headed a secret operation in Geneva and received at least 12 cartons comprising the original documents and evidences against some Pakistani high-ups in Swiss money laundering case, Geo News reported Tuesday.
According to Geo News correspondent, the Prosecutor General of Pakistan in Geneva deposited these cartons in the era of former President Pervez Musharraf.
The sources said the secret operation was carried out at the bidding of a top personality of Pakistan, as these evidences could be used if Swiss Money Laundering case is reopened after the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) terms comes to an end.
The sources at Pakistan embassy said if the concerned officials or the courts do not interfere by taking the evidences back from Wajid, then these documents would be wasted for good.
The secret operation begins at 9am on Monday when Wajid arrived in Pak High Commission’s car along with NAB’s senior official Danishwar Malik at the office of Prosecutor General in Geneva.
According to sources, the Prosecutor General kept refusing to give the documents for some hours, as nobody from Pakistan embassy was formally receiving them.
It should be mentioned here that after the NRO, these cases were closed. However now that the term of NRO is over, it was all the more likely that these cases could be re-opened and these evidences could be employed against Zardari.
President Asif Zardari's total assets are estimated at $1.5 billion, according to a NAB filing with Pakistan Supreme Court, reports the News:
ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday submitted in the Supreme Court the list of the NRO beneficiaries, which showed President Asif Ali Zardari possessing assets worth $1.5 billion (Rs 120 billion) abroad and worth Rs 24.14 billion in the country.
Deputy Prosecutor General Abdul Baseer Qureshi presented the list of 248 NRO beneficiaries before the full court, hearing the petitions challenging the infamous ordinance, promulgated in 2007 giving legal cover to the corruption of politicians and bureaucrats
A 17-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had directed the NAB the other day to submit authentic details of the NRO beneficiaries. According to the list, there are at least seven abolished references against President Zardari. The list indicates that the assets of President Asif Ali Zardari in foreign countries stand at $1.5 billion, including houses and bank accounts in Spain, France, the US and Britain while his assets in the country stand at Rs 24.14 billion.
In the list, President Zardari’s assets worth Rs 22 billion were mentioned as beyond means and the cases in this regard were withdrawn by the Accountability Court on March 5, 2008, under the controversial NRO.
Similarly, cases of corruption of Rs 268.3 million regarding the purchase of Ursus Tractors (Awami Scheme) and illegal construction of the polo ground at the PM House at the cost of Rs 52.297 million were terminated under the NRO in March 2008.Likewise, the list also includes allegedly causing loss of Rs 1.822 billion to the national exchequer by President Zardari by granting licence to the ARY Gold. The said case was also terminated under the NRO ordinance.
The NAB deputy prosecutor general told the court that information regarding the misuse of authority in affairs of SGS PSI Company by Asif Ali Zardari as well as illegal award of contract to Cotecna for pre-shipment was being collected.
The NAB list included names of Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Ambassador to United States Hussain Haqqani, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, former NWFP chief minister Aftab Sherpao Khan, ex MNAs Nawab Yousaf Talpur, Anwar Saifullah Khan, Sardar Mansoor Leghari, Haji Nawaz Khokhar, Pir Mukarramul Haq, Brig (retd) Imtiaz, Usman Farooqi, Salman Farooqi, former president Habib Bank Younus Dalmia, Mirbaz Khetran and many others.
He submitted that the National Assembly’s standing committee approved the NRO, however, the concerned minister took it back from the assembly. During the proceedings, advocates general of the Punjab, the NWFP and Balochistan informed the court that under Section 2-A of NRO, no review boards were constituted in their respective provinces to decide the murder cases.
Advocate General Sindh Yousaf Leghari, however, informed the court that 8,000 cases were dropped under the NRO in Sindh, of which 3,000 were murder cases. He sought time to provide details of the cases decided under Section 2-A of the NRO in Sindh. The court directed the AG Sindh to submit report before the court today (Wednesday).
Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, counsel for Dr Mubashar Hassan, submitted the ordinance as whole was void because it was a fraud ordinance as it violated many substantial provisions of the Constitution.
He submitted that reconciliation meant reconciliation between husband and wife, between parents but this National Reconciliation Ordinance had trampled the rights of the entire nation. Pirzada contended that all stakeholders were not taken into confidence before its promulgation. “The nation is threatened with fragmentation,” Pirzada maintained.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan has declared NRO null and void ab initio, according to Dawn News:
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has declared the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) null and void in a short order.
In a landmark decision, the apex court unanimously decided that the ordinance was unconstitutional.
All old cases that had been dismissed under the NRO stand revived and can now be reopened as per the court orders.
The court said that all orders that were passed and all acquittals under the NRO were illegal and never existed.
The apex court in its order also said that all convictions that were held prior to the enactment of the NRO stand revived as well.
Now the Zardari camp is expected to argue that, under the constitution of Pakistan, President Zardari is immune from prosecution as long as he is in office.
Recent verdict of Supreme Court of Pakistan mean that Mr.Zardari was not eligible to contest for president election.Therefor immunity is also cancelled since Oct 2007.
Zardari must be put out of President house. The amount he earned by CORRUPTION was sufficent enough to build many hospitals, hundreds of schools and a lot of other welfare projects in country.
He must be hanged on street for depriving thousands of medical facilities and education. He is a butcher who killed his wife. Only death can complete his lust of money.
A.K. Khan Karachi.Pakistan
Here is an AP story about the aftermath of Pakistan's amnesty reversal:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Pakistan's anti-corruption agency has barred the defense minister and nearly 250 other top officials from leaving the country as political turmoil deepens following a Supreme Court ruling that struck down a graft amnesty.
The agency said Thursday that the officials were now under investigation following this week's court verdict, which meant that up to 8,000 graft and other cases dating back to the 1990s have, or will soon be, reopened. The decision has roiled the country's political elite just as the United States is looking for a solid partner to help it fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban along the Afghan border.
U.S.-allied President Asif Ali Zardari and several of his key aides are among those who benefited from the amnesty deal. Zardari is protected by constitutional immunity from any criminal prosecution, but opponents say they plan to challenge his eligibility for office.
Pakistan's anti-corruption agency said 247 people who had cases withdrawn under the amnesty had been blocked from travel because cases against them were now under investigation. It did not say who was on the list, but Pakistani news channels reported that Interior Minister Rehman Malik—a key aide of Zardari—was included, as well as Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar.
Mukhtar told a local television station that immigration officials at the airport had barred him from boarding a Pakistani International Airlines plane to China along with the navy chief late Thursday. He said he planned to take delivery of a new warship. It was not clear what he was being investigated for.
While the armed forces are under nominal civilian control, analysts say that in reality the top brass—not Mukhtar—make the decisions regarding defense issues. As such, investigations against him and Malik are not expected to directly impact the country's fight against militancy in the border regions.
Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling has significantly weakened Zardari and raised question marks over his future. It has been welcomed by many Pakistanis, who viewed the graft amnesty as an immoral piece of legislation that whitewashed the crimes of the elite.
The 54-year-old, who heads the country's largest party, is already unpopular, in large part because of his close ties with Washington. He now faces the prospect of bruising court battles that will likely mean old corruption charges come under fresh scrutiny.
Zardari's aides said any corruption charges against him were politically motivated and noted that they have never been proved despite being aired since the 1990s. Critics countered he was morally obligated to resign, at least while the court heard any challenges to his rule.
"It will be in his own interest, it will be in the interest of his party and it will be good for the system," said Khawaja Asif, a senior leader from the opposition Pakistan Muslim League party.
The Obama administration needs political stability in Pakistan to succeed in neighboring Afghanistan, where violence against U.S. and NATO troops is running at all time highs. Washington is trying to get Islamabad to crack down on insurgents close to the northwestern border who it says are behind much of the insurgency in Afghanistan.
Earlier Thursday, two U.S. missile strikes pummeled targets in the border region killing 17 people, local intelligence officials said. The latest attacks in more than 40 this year rained down Thursday on North Waziristan, a haven for al-Qaida and the Taliban, including groups determined to push the U.S. and NATO out of Afghanistan.
It was not immediately clear exactly who or what was the target of the strike, and the Pakistani officials said they were trying to establish the identities of the dead.
Here is a BBC story about the aftermath of Pakistan's amnesty reversal:
A judge in Karachi has summoned the Interior Minister, Rehman Malik to appear before an anti-corruption court.
It follows a court ruling this week which ruled out an immunity granted to the minister and thousands of other Pakistani officials.
Mr Malik is one of around 250 officials whose corruption and criminal cases have been re-opened.
On Thursday Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar was barred from going to China after he was stopped at the airport.
Mr Mukhtar said immigration officials prevented him from boarding the plane for an official visit.
The latest developments after the supreme court ruled on Wednesday that an amnesty protecting senior members of government was unconstitutional.
Only recently has it been revealed that more than 8,000 politicians and officials benefited from the legislation.
Those under investigation are barred from leaving Pakistan but the others have so far not been named.
The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad says that the ruling has thrown Pakistan's political administration into turmoil.
Our correspondent says that calls are growing for the president and the entire government to step down - something presidential aides have said will not happen.
The controversial amnesty was brought in by the previous president, Pervez Musharraf, and its removal opens the way to possible prosecution for allies of the current President, Asif Zardari.
Mr Zardari himself faces several pending court cases against him in Pakistan but is protected by presidential immunity.
Before taking office, he spent years in jail after being convicted on corruption charges he says were politically motivated.
Pakistan's main opposition, the Pakistan Muslim League-N of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has called on the president to resign.
Mr Mukhtar told local television that his name was on the "exit list" restricting travel and that the federal investigation authorities had said he could not leave the country.
He told Geo TV that he had been planning to visit China for three days on an official visit in connection with the delivery of a warship.
"It was in connection with a corruption case but there is no corruption case against me - it is only an inquiry which is pending against me for the past 12 years."
He said he would "strongly defend" himself in court.
The amnesty was introduced by Mr Musharraf in order to allow Mr Zardari's late wife, Benazir Bhutto, to return to the country and stand for office, with the aim of a possible power-sharing deal with Mr Musharraf.
She returned to Pakistan from abroad after the so-called National Reconciliation Ordinance was signed into law, but was assassinated soon after.
Here's a World Bank assessment that corruption retards investment in Pakistan:
ISLAMABAD: The World Bank finds corruption a serious and growing obstacle to the investment climate in Pakistan besides expressing dissatisfaction over the issue of governance in the country.
In its 128-page draft report on Pakistan’s Investment Climate dated March 16, 2009, the WB said that corruption is largely associated with business-government interface and reveals that the menace is more widespread here as compared to other countries though the bribe rates here are lower. Referring to a survey conducted for the formulation of the draft report, the Bank says that results show that perceptions about corruption in Pakistan are based on actual experiences with paying bribes by the investing firms. It reveals that the firms making investment in Pakistan have to pay bribes even to get water, telephone and electricity connections.
In view of WB clarification to The News Wednesday’s report on power sector and its observation that this correspondent has drawn inferences from the Bank’s draft report, select portions of the report pertaining to governance and corruption are being reproduced to end any confusion being deliberately created about the findings of WB in its draft report.
On the issue of government, the report in its page 64 and para 135, said, “Consistent interpretation and application of rules and regulations is an important reflection of good governance. Discretion or lack of predictability and consistency in the interpretation of rules and regulations (by government officials) is indeed a severe problem in Pakistan. Only 46 per cent of firms in Pakistan believe that the officials interpret rules consistently, compared with 60 per cent in comparator countries.”
On the issue of corruption, the report’s para 136 states, “Corruption, a serious and growing obstacle to the investment climate, is largely associated with business-government interface. Corruption is considered a severe constraint by more than half of all the firms (57 per cent) in Pakistan, significantly higher than the 40 per cent figure from 2002 and much higher than those of the comparator countries, with the exception of Brazil and Bangladesh. It is common for firms in Pakistan to pay informal payments to government officials to get things done. In 2006, three out of every four firms strongly agreed or tended to agree with the preceding statement.”
Para 137 of the report says, “Results show that perception about corruption in Pakistan are based on actual experiences with paying bribes. In other words, the probability that a firm reported corruption as a serious obstacle rises by 29-percentage point (against 57 per cent in the full sample) if the firm experienced at least one incident of bribe. As with perceptions of corruption, bribe incidence in Pakistan has increased 20 per cent over time-from 40 per cent in 2002 to 48 per cent in 2007.”
Here's a report from the News about Zardari receiving expensive gifts:
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Zardari has set a new record within a year by taking one-third of all the expensive gifts presented to all Pakistani presidents and prime ministers. Of the gifts totalling Rs160 million, Zardari has taken gifts worth Rs62 million during the first year of his presidency.
In his foreign visits so far, Zardari has been given 27 gifts worth Rs62 million,which is one-third of the accumulated cost of the 3,039 gifts, which were given to presidents and prime ministers in three decades.
Zardari is said to have got two BMWs and two foreign manufactured Toyota Jeeps as gift by Libyan leader Colonel Qadafi during his visit to Libya, which he took to his home, after paying a sum of only Rs9.3 million as retention cost.
These shocking figures were produced before the Senate standing committee on cabinet division by the cabinet secretary on Monday during a presentation to its members. Zardari is now richer by Rs50 million within one year in the presidency, without doing a single rupee irregularity as this all was done under the law as he paid 15 per cent of the total cost of two BMWs and two jeeps and retained them.
The other 13 Pakistani presidents and prime ministers, from Gen Ziaul Haq to Gen Musharraf and from Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo to Shaukat Aziz, quietly took 3,039 expensive gifts worth Rs160 million to their homes. The list shows three presidents and two prime ministers — Farooq Leghari, Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif and Shaukat Aziz — took gifts worth Rs150 million out of Rs160 million but Asif Zardari took the largest share within a year of his presidency.
Others including Gen Ziaul Haq, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Rafiq Tarar, and PMs Mohammad Khan Junejo, Benazir Bhutto, Balakh Sher Mazari, Zafarullah Khan Jamali and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain got gifts worth Rs10 million.
This extraordinary list does not contain names of hundreds of ministers, federal secretaries, officials and military officers and generals who, too, received gifts from foreign dignitaries and took them home.
According to an official copy presented to the National Assembly committee members, the record of similar gifts received and retained by two prime ministers, Yousuf Raza Gilani and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was not produced before the committee.
One source said either both the gentlemen did not get a single gift during their tenures or the official record of their gifts had gone missing so it was not produced before the committee members. The source claimed there could be one other possibility: the cabinet division bosses did not produce the record for some other “obvious reason”.
Shaukat Aziz, Gen (retd) Musharraf and Asif Zardari were among the few leaders who got the most expensive gifts. Sources said these gifts were valued at much lower price than their actual price to enable these leaders to take the gifts home without paying a single penny or after paying a meagre part of the cost.
Here's a Dawn editorial about wasted aid in Pakistan:
AND we wonder why our friends abroad are so hesitant to help Pakistan in its time of need. USAID’s inspector general recently posted audits of two Washington-funded programmes collectively worth $145m that apparently yielded little or no results. One sought to improve governance in Fata while the other was aimed at reforms in the education sector. In both cases, the auditor found that the money was funnelled into an administrative void where the programme’s existence on paper was more important than its implementation. Computers purchased remain boxed to this day and laptops have gone missing. The Obama administration’s shift in strategy, which envisages a more prominent role for NGOs rather than government organisations in the disbursement of aid, has only added to the confusion. Instead of fast-tracked implementation, what we have seen is statis. Hundreds of thousands of administrative dollars have gone into pondering over which NGOs and charities should be chosen, often without any tangible result. ‘Let’s meet again in Islamabad or Karachi, flying in delegates and putting them up in five-star hotels, to talk some more. Surely we’ll find a way to spend this money before July 30’ is the refrain.
It is understandable that the US and other foreign donors want to bypass a government accused of corruption and inefficiency. Pakistan’s bureaucracy is a quagmire where even the most mundane of tasks are either lost in a log-jam that has been decades in the making or are ignored until palms are greased in keeping with the ‘stature’ of the beneficiary. But here’s the rub. A few reputable organisations aside, Pakistan’s NGOs have perfected the art of racketeering. A new grant usually means more four-wheel drives for the head honchos whose output is largely limited to paper — to raising ‘awareness’ as opposed to working in the field. Funds received have to be spent within a given framework, even if the final product is redundant. Hundreds of thousands of rupees are paid to inept ‘consultants’.
Given this mess in both the public and private sectors, what is the way forward for foreign donors? One, demanding transparency in all interactions with the Pakistani government. Every dollar must be accounted for — possibly in bi-annual audits — and work on the ground must take precedence over publications or administrative costs. Two, being selective in the choice of NGOs, giving particular emphasis to their ethical mores and capacity to deliver. It’s not impossible.
Here's a BBC report about re-opening Swiss corruption probe against Zardari:
Pakistan's anti-corruption agency is to ask Switzerland to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Zardari.
The move came after Pakistan's Supreme Court said it would jail the head of the agency if he did not take action.
Mr Zardari and his late wife, former PM Benazir Bhutto, were convicted by a Swiss court in a $15m money-laundering case in 2003. They denied the charges.
Pakistan withdrew from the Swiss case soon after Mr Zardari's Pakistan People's Party came to power in 2008.
But an amnesty protecting Mr Zardari and other top officials from prosecution was annulled by the Supreme Court in December.
The court has been demanding corruption cases be reopened ever since, several of them involving President Zardari.
Before taking office, he spent years in jail after being convicted on corruption charges he says were politically motivated.
His political allies face possible prosecution in Pakistan, but he is still protected by presidential immunity.
If the Swiss authorities accede to the Pakistani request, he faces being investigated for corruption while in office.
On Tuesday Pakistan's Supreme Court threatened to jail the head of the country's anti-corruption agency unless he reopens hundreds of corruption cases.
It said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Naveed Ahsan would be in contempt of court if he did not act within 24 hours.
"In light of directions of the court on the revival of the Swiss cases, the NAB has initiated the process," Abid Zuberi, a lawyer for the agency, told the court on Wednesday.
The Swiss Justice Ministry said it had yet to receive any request from Pakistan.
Here's an excerpt from William Dalrymple's book "Nine Lives" about Bhuttos:
Benazir was a notably inept administrator. During her first 20-month-long premiership, she failed to pass a single piece of major legislation, and during her two periods in power she did almost nothing to help the liberal causes she espoused so enthusiastically to the Western media.
Instead, it was under her watch that Pakistan’s secret service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), helped install the Taliban in Pakistan, and she did nothing to rein in the agency’s disastrous policy of training up Islamist jihadis from the country’s madrasas to do the ISI’s dirty work in Kashmir and Afghanistan. As a young correspondent covering the conflict in Kashmir in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I saw how during her premiership, Pakistan sidelined the Kashmiris’ own secular resistance movement, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, and instead gave aid and training to the brutal Islamist outfits it created and controlled, such as Lashkar-e-Toiba and Harkat ul-Mujahedin. Benazir’s administration, in other words, helped train the very assassins who are most likely to have shot her.
Benazir was, above all, a feudal landowner, whose family owned great tracts of Sindh, and with the sense of entitlement this produced. Democracy has never thrived in Pakistan in part because landowning remains the base from which politicians emerge. In this sense, Pakistani democracy in Pakistan is really a form of “elective feudalism”: the Bhuttos’ feudal friends and allies were nominated for seats by Benazir, and these landowners made sure their peasants voted them in.
Behind Pakistan’s swings between military government and democracy lies a surprising continuity of elitist interests: to some extent, Pakistan’s industrial, military and landowning classes are all interrelated, and they look after each other. They do not, however, do much to look after the poor. The government education system barely functions in Pakistan, and for the poor, justice is almost impossible to come by. According to the political scientist Ayesha Siddiqa, “Both the military and the political parties have all failed to create an environment where the poor can get what they need from the state. So the poor have begun to look for alternatives. In the long term, these flaws in the system will create more room for the fundamentalists.”
Many right-wing commentators on the Islamic world tend to see political Islam as an anti-liberal and irrational form of “Islamo-fascism”. Yet much of the success of the Islamists in countries such as Pakistan comes from the Islamists’ ability to portray themselves as champions of social justice, fighting people like Benazir Bhutto from the corrupt Westernised elite that rules most of the Muslim world from Karachi to Riyadh, Ramallah and Algiers.
Benazir’s reputation for massive corruption was gold dust to these Islamic revolutionaries, just as the excesses of the Shah were to their counterparts in Iran 30 years earlier: during her government, Pakistan was declared one of the three most corrupt countries in the world, and Bhutto and her husband, Asif Zardari — widely known as “Mr 10%” — faced allegations of plundering the country; charges were filed in Pakistan, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States to investigate their various bank accounts, and they stood accused of jointly looting no less than $1.4 billion from the state.
Here's a billion dollar LNG contract scandal uncovered by a complaint of the Fauji Foundation CEO, as reported by The News:
The NA members were told that the petroleum ministry bosses had never recommended to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to give the multi-billion dollar contract to French firm (GDF-SUEZ), whom surprisingly they all were religiously defending now.
It was disclosed that the petroleum ministry had actually recommended the award of the contract to Shell-Qatar, whose bid was higher than the French bid by $1.5 billion. But Shaukat Tarin had thrown this recommendation of the ministry in a dustbin after he learnt that he was being asked to award the contract to a party (Shell), whose bid was higher by $1.5 billion compared to the lowest bidder.
At the end of the hour-long presentation followed by a question-answer session, Chairman MNA Sheikh Waqas Akram, praised the journalist for his comprehensive presentation. Later, MD Fauji Foundation Lt Gen Rab Nawaz was said to have reiterated his old stance that his firm’s bid was the lowest if compared with the GDF-Suez, which was awarded the deal.
The committee met with Chairman Sheikh Waqas in the chair and was attended by MNAs Barjees Tahir, Nawab Yousuf Talpur, Wasan, Khurum Wattoo and others. Petroleum Minister Naveed Qamar, Secretary Kamran Lashari, Special Secretary G A Sabri and MD FF General Rab Nawaz attended the meeting.
Klasra told the committee that his story was based on the minutes of the ECC presided over by then Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin. The minutes had revealed that Tarin had got a telephone call from MD Fauji Foundation that the lowest bid given jointly by FF/Vitol had been rejected and the highest bidder GDF-Suez was given the lucrative contract. Tarin had informed MD FF that he was not aware of any such bidding because the petroleum ministry never shared such information in its official summary tabled before the ECC on Feb 9.
Consequently, Tarin had alarm bells ringing and had ordered a serious probe into the whole issue as to why the bid offered by FF/Vitol was not mentioned in the summary. But the petroleum ministry never replied to the queries of Tarin till he departed from his office at the end of February, much to the satisfaction of the petroleum ministry officials who thought that the issue had been buried but the publication of the scandal by The News shook them.
Petroleum ministry officials had even written a letter to Tarin, informing him that Minister Naveed Qamar had desired that they should not respond to him as he would “personally deal” with this issue. According to Klasra, he had contacted Shaukat Tarin to get his version about these startling developments and the ex-FM had confirmed on record that he was kept in the dark about the joint bid of FF/Vitol, which was claimed to be the lowest.
Tarin confirmed that he got no reply from the Ministry of Petroleum till he left the office. He also claimed that according to his calculation and information, there was a difference of one billion dollars in the bid price of the French company and FF/Vitol, so the country had suffered a loss of a billion dollar.
Minister Naveed Qamar is a close friend and ally of Zardari.
In the last two years since the resignation of President Musharraf, the corruption perception has worsened in Pakistan, according to the latest Transparency International Corruption report 2010. Though the 2009 Corruption Survey Report was an eye-opener, but this year it was shocking Khyber Pakhtoon Khawa Province (former N.W.F.P) beat all the provinces and has the highest rate of corruption in Pakistan. Here Here are some of the highlights of this report.
* The report titled the National Corruption Perception Survey 2010 showed a high rise in corruption from 195 billion rupees in the year 2009 to 223 billion rupees in the year 2010.
* Bureaucracy and Police had maintained their ranking as the two of the most corrupt departments in public sector in 2010.
* Land administration departments were placed third in corrupt practices.
* Corruption in the judiciary, local government and education sectors has also increased as compared to the last year.
* Syed Adil Gilani chairman of TIP said that about 70 % of people believed that the previous military regime of General Pervez Musharraf was less corrupt then the present Pakistan People's Party (PPP) led coalition government.
* In terms of bribery, land administration was the most corrupt sector, where average bribe paid in each incident was 46, 414 rupees.
* KPK (NWFP) is highlighted to be the most corrupt of all the provinces.
Here are some excerpts from an Asia Times report about tax cheating by the rich and powerful feudal politicians in Pakistan:
A case in point is Sardar Farooq Legari, whose estates extend from the Punjab to the Pakhtunkhwa. In 1994-95, he reported "zero income" while he was still the sitting president of Pakistan. Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (Pakistan's Justice Movement) shamed the entire landed class by revealing that a practicing lawyer, Khalid Ishaq, paid more in taxes in 1992-93 than all 273 members of the National Assembly combined - 85% of whom were large landholders.
This shaming, however, did not work on lawmakers who kept evading taxes. In 1994-95, celebrated journalist-writer M Ziauddin conducted a thorough investigation into the taxable farm income and tax-paying behavior of wealthy farmers. He found that all landlords in the country pitched in just chump change of 2 million rupees in taxes in 1996 against their annual income of 600 billion rupees. On this scale, Ziauddin concluded that the landowning classes had been evading taxes of 100 billion rupees a year.
This is a blatant case of tax theft, which has spawned its own vicious knock-offs, one of which is "black money" (that is, totally untaxed wealth). In 1996, an economist estimated that black money in Pakistan grew as large as to form 40% of GDP. If left alone, tax evasion in the above-ground economy or underground economy increases the budget deficit and forces governments to shift the tax burden to consumers or to increase money supply.
In either case, it is a whammy for the poor. In the 2008-09 budget, Pakistan has set itself on the course of widening the tax net. In terms of the tax-GDP ratio, the current budget features a relatively high ratio at 14%. The tax base also is on the rise. In 1994, it consisted of an overwhelming majority of the working middle class of 800,000 tax payers, who have now grown to more than 2 million.
The government, thus, can over the next 10 years raise $50 billion - $5 billion a year - to rein in poverty. At the current exchange rate, $5 billion comes to 345 billion rupees. Economist Shahid Hasan Siddiqi believes that Pakistan is undertaxed by 400 billion rupees a year. Its tax revenue should be 1.6 trillion rupees as against the projected 1.25 trillion rupees for 2008-09.
Recent survey by Transparency in Pakistan show that the corruption in Pakistan has dramatically increased, according to report in Dawn. Here are some excerpts:
The overall corruption has increased by around Rs28 billion in a year, and more than 70 per cent of Pakistanis say the present government is more corrupt than the previous one, said a Transparency International Pakistan official.
Releasing the findings of the National Corruption Perception Survey 2010 at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday, TIP chief Adil Gillani said that over Rs195 was misappropriated during 2009 while more than Rs223 billion — an increase of Rs28 billion, or about 15 per cent — has been misappropriated during 2010.
He said the survey — jointly financed by the USAID and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation — reveals the perception levels and frequency of corruption faced by the common Pakistanis on a daily basis.
He said an average expenditure on bribery per household this year was Rs10,537, based on a population of over 169.58 million and eight members per family, the cost of bribery comes to Rs223 billion.
Mr Gillani said the departments of police and the power sector had retained their first and second positions, respectively, since 2002. Other corrupt sectors during 2010 were the land administration, education, local government, judiciary, health, taxation, customs and tendering and contracting.
Pakistan at 42nd position
He said Pakistan shared the 42nd position among the most corrupt countries in the world with Bangladesh. India, though located in between and despite being more populous, was less corrupt than both its neighbours and was placed on the 95th position on the chart of corruption.
He said the TIP had developed a 24-page questioner that was put to 5,200 people from all the four provinces. Students of the Institute of Business Administration Karachi carried out the survey in Sindh; Gujranwala University, Gomal University and Sarhad University carried out the survey in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, respectively.
He said the survey found that only the present Punjab government was cleaner than the previous one, while the rest of the governments — federal and three provincial ones — were considered to be more corrupt than their predecessors. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was the most corrupt of the provincial governments, he said.
The TIP chief said the credibility of the country was at the lowest level as almost no funding had been released in the last two years from the Friends of Pakistan fund being managed by the World Bank.
the truth is that people party is a curse on pakistan sent by Almighty for our own doing.corruption has always been flourishing during this party's tenure.one example: a person purchased a peon's job for rs.50,000/. he is happy and staunch supporter of ppp.why? he says he got the job through pp agent otherwise there was no chance of getting the job.he would earn fifty thousand in 5/6 months otherwise he would have remained unemployed for ever.the pp agent is happy that he received his share because of the pp govt. and the peon is happy the he got the job because of pp govt. Both are staunch supporter of pp and would do their best to help pp in any elctions. can you, n muslim league walas, beat them. keep on your policy of friendly opposition.
sardar muhammad riaz khan
Here's the news of Faisal Saleh Hayat asking the Supreme Court to review irregularities in the award of rental power plants:
ISLAMABAD: Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, a member of the Supreme Court bench hearing allegations of corruption in rental power plants (RPPs) projects, said on Wednesday he wondered why Pakistan was getting a mere 150MW of electricity despite having paid a whopping amount of Rs18 billion as a mobilisation fund to power generators one and a half years ago.
Taking a suo motu notice of the allegations, the three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Ramday ordered the IT in-charge of Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) to retrieve information about the company’s generation capacity of the past one year, along with details of shortfall.
According to former minister Faisal Saleh Hayat of the PML-Q, the information had been removed by Pepco from its website.
“The statement seems to be true as our own responsible officer from the IT department confirms it,” the chief justice said, adding: “Prima facie we are of the opinion that Pepco for reasons known to its authority has removed the figures whose retrieval is very important for a decision by this court.”
The chief justice observed: “After such a big investment, prima facie the desired results have not been achieved.” He said that not any other forum, but an Asian Development Bank report itself had said so.
Last year the federal government had approved plans to set up rental power projects to generate about 1,206MW of electricity to end loadshedding.
But the plans became controversial when Faisal Saleh Hayat, a member of the National Assembly, levelled corruption allegations against Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in the house. Mr Ashraf rubbished the allegations and threatened to sue Mr Hayat.
The court asked Pepco’s IT in-charge to appear in person and submit the company’s authentic record.
He is required to retrieve the information from ‘master server’ if it is not available at the website.
Mr Hayat, who was summoned by the court to substantiate the allegations, described the RPP deal as the mother of all corruption and said the units being installed were 10 years old and had outlived their utility.
“They (plants) are not only very expensive, but their generation capacity has also deteriorated over the years,” he said.
Citing the official record he had downloaded from Pepco’s website, Mr Hayat said that Pakistan’s power generation capacity was about 19,478MW in 2008 while the total electricity demand was 18,200MW in 2009. About 3,068MW had been purchased from independent power producers (IPPs) which, he said, was half the capacity of 6,098MW generated through thermal plants.
Despite adequate generation capacity, Mr Hayat alleged, the much-needed power requirement was deliberately not met to justify installation of rental power houses and callously leave the poor masses to bear 14 to 18 hours of loadshedding. Besides, he said, managing directors had been appointed in Pepco in violation of the company rules because they were neither engineers nor finance specialists, or from business or accounts.
“The power generated by IPPs cost us 10 to 12 US cents per unit while the same from RPPs will cost us 15 to 22 cents,” Mr Hayat said.
But Khawaja Tariq Raheem, the counsel for Pepco, said the electricity from RPPs would cost the country Rs14 per unit while the same from thermal power (IPPs) cost Rs12 to 18. The electricity from hydel projects cost Rs2-2.5.
The latest Transparency International report says corruption has significantly increased in Pakistan during the last two years. Pakistan has slipped from 134th place in 2008, to 139th in 2009 and 143rd in 2010:
KARACHI: Pakistan's decline continue in Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) and now its Index Score is 2.3 against 2.4 in 2009, and out of 178 countries, its ranking as most corrupt country has slipped 7 ranks, from 42 in 2009 to 34 most corrupt country in 2010.
The 2010 CPI shows that nearly three quarters of the 178 countries in the index score below five, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (perceived to have low levels of corruption), indicating a serious corruption problem.
Syed Adil Gilani, Chairman TI Pakistan said in last two year there have been unprecedented cases of corruption involving tens of billions of rupees in public sector organization, which under the Rule of Law, should have been taken up by the National Accountability Bureau.
He said the political will of the government to fight corruption is lacking which has resulted in the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo moto action against mega corruption in NICL, Pakistan Steel, Rental Power Plants.
The CPI 2010 reveals that corruption in Pakistan is increasing, while in Bangladesh it is decreasing. Bangladesh was perceived to be the most corrupt country in 2001, 2002 and 2003 and its ranking in 2010 is 39 most corrupt country.
Reduced corruption has paid dividends to Bangladesh whose annual GDP growth last year was over 5%, while Pakistan's GDP growth last year was near 2.4 %. Delay in formation of An Independent Accountability Commission by the parliament may further aggravate the situation.
Chairman TI Pakistan said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which has a declared policy of Zero-Tolerance for Corruption on 22 March 2009, in its order of 12th October, 2010 in NICL Case No.18 of 2010 involving six procurements is considers the Violation of Public Procurement Rules 2004 as a criminal act. It is a landmark order, treating violation of Public Procurement Rules 2004 as a federal crime and it will help reduction in Corruption.
The direct impact of increased corruption is witnessed in the rise in the prices of food commodities which according to the latest official data of Federal Bureau of Statistics, have increased up to 120 percent in last one year viz. sugar from Rs 54 to Rs 80, pulses from Rs 50 to Rs 110, eggs from Rs 35 to Rs 60, and the Foreign Direct Investment for the fiscal year 2009-2010 dropped to US $ 2.21 billion from US$ 3.71 billion in FY 2008-2009, and in July-Sept 2010 it is further dropped to US $ 387.4 million ( 68% of last year).
Foreign debt on Pakistan increased from US $ 40 Billion in 1999 to US $ 46 billion in 2008, whereas in last two years it has increased to US $ 53.5 billion.
Across the board Application of Rule of Law, Merit based appointments and easy Access to Justice is the only solution to save Pakistan from corruption, which is responsible for poverty, inflation, terrorism, illiteracy, lack of electricity and hording of essential food commodities.
In the 2010 CPI, Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore tie for first place with scores of 9.3. Unstable governments, often with a legacy of conflict, continue to dominate the bottom rungs of the CPI. Afghanistan and Myanmar share second to last place with a score of 1.4, with Somalia coming in last with a score of 1.1.
Here are some excerpts from a recent by India's Tehelka.com piece on the impact in South Asia of Swiss Bank secrecy law change forced by the United States:
SHAKEN BY the Swiss government’s recent announcement that it would reveal the names and account details of Indians who have stashed away an estimated $1.4 trillion ( Rs.62 lakh crore) in Swiss banks, the tax evaders are rushing the greenbacks back home. The Swiss are only waiting for the Indian Parliament to ratify the revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) that the two countries signed in August. The revised treaty is also likely to ensure that henceforth global shipping companies will be required to pay tax on their profits only in their country of domicile. Currently, though India has DTAAs with 79 countries, not all of them have provision for exchanging taxation-related information..............
As for the Swiss government, it could soon push its banks to exchange information related to the tax evaders’ bank account details, as per norms set by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The move is believed to have been prompted by intense pressure from G-20 nations. “This is worrying many Indians who have money stashed away in those banks,” says Jethmalani, adding: “So they are taking out their money and, for the time being at least, investing heavily in the market.”
And this has been happening in Pakistan as well, ever since the Swiss Parliament’s historic move to pass the Return of Illicit Assets Act (RIAA). There, too, the tax evaders have started transferring billions of dollars from their Swiss bank accounts to secret destinations in Europe and Asia. According to recent estimates, roughly $200 billion — four times the external debt of Pakistan — is stashed away in Swiss banks and is now being withdrawn. Top sources in Lahore say they have evidence that Pakistanis are moving their black money to two destinations — London and Islamabad — via PN, and opening sub-accounts with FIIs. “Our problems are similar. They are making everything above board, everything official,” said Ali Mohammed, a broker at the Karachi Stock Exchange.
Earlier this month, Christa Markwalder, president, Foreign Affairs Committee (Presidentin Aussenpolitische Kommission des National Rats) of the Swiss Parliament told Tarun Vijay, MP and national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party, that she had recently explained to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee about how the matter could be resolved to India's satisfaction. Incidentally, Vijay was the first to directly contact the Swiss government in this regard. But Jethmalani feels India is not pressing the Swiss hard enough. “Soon, there will be a crash of an unusual nature in the markets — because even if the Swiss government is keen, the Indian government does not seem to be keen to push the agenda,” says Jethmalani.
Here's a report of French Defense Minister confirming bribes paid to Pakistani officials on a submarine deal in the 1990s during the PPP regime:
Former French defense minister has confirmed bribes on arms deals with Pakistan, the cancellation of which prompted the deadly Karachi bombing in 2002.
Charles Millon, on Wednesday, told a hearing tasked with probing into the killing of French engineers that he was sure there were kickbacks on ammunition contracts with Pakistan.
“For the Pakistani contract, looking at the secret service reports and analyses carried out by the (defense) ministry services, one has the absolute conviction that there were kickbacks,” AFP quoted Millon.
Former President Jacques Chirac had tasked him with ending bribes on arms contracts shortly after coming to power in 1995.
However, bribing between officials and corporations in France continued until an incident involving arms deals eight years ago allegedly resulted in a deadly bombing in Pakistan.
The bomb attack took place in Karachi, in May 2002, in which 15 people died, including 11 French engineers and technicians from the Directorate of Naval Construction, working in the construction of submarines.
Since 2008, French persecutors are examining charges that the cancelling of commissions for one of the arms deals prompted the attack.
Here is a Christian Science Monitor report on wikileaks early reaction in Pakistan:
Long derided in liberal Pakistani circles as a fanciful conspiracy theory, the notion that the US has designs on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal will likely gain traction here following a report that the US has mounted a secret effort to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani reactor since 2007....
The perception that America is attempting to rob Pakistan of its nuclear capability has long been touted by Islamists and hardliners in Pakistan, and is frequently brought up alongside the theory that the security firm Xe (formerly known as Blackwater) is responsible for a spate of suicide bomb attacks on civilian targets over the past few years. The US, for its part, has been keenly aware of the sensitivity of the issue, so much so that in May 2009, Ambassador Anne Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts for fear of stoking the Pakistani media’s suspicions.
According to security analyst Gen. (ret.) Talat Masood, the WikiLeaks revelations will prove a boon to hardliners in Pakistan.
“It really reinforces [what until now] has been a conspiracy theory – that America has always been after nuclear assets and gives a big handle to the right and those who have been saying America is not a our friend and saying they are following a dual policy: with India they are friends but with Pakistan they are trying to simultaneously undermine us.”
General Masood predicts the WikiLeaks cable report will have a serious short-term and long-term impact on US-Pakistan relations, and undermine those Pakistanis who have spoken up in favor of closer cooperation with the US in recent times.
“It places such people on the defensive – it looks like the US is trying to get close to Pakistanis who are more Westernized but who are compromising Pakistan’s national interest,” he says.
According to Pervez Hoodbhoy, an eminent Pakistani nuclear physicist based at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, the report probably refers to the highly enriched uranium Pakistan received from the US in the late 1960s as part of the "Atoms for Peace" program, before its weapons program began.
“As far as I can guess, the leak refers to highly enriched uranium that Pakistan received from the US in the late 1960's or early 1970s for running the small 5-mw research reactor at PINSTECH,” he says, in reference to a research center based close to Islamabad that is aimed at producing atomic energy. “There is no other reactor in Pakistan that runs on HEU. I suppose that the US wants it back because of fears that Al Qaeda might get its hands on it somehow.”
Pakistan gained its own nuclear enriching capability in 1976, therefore the removal of some highly enriched uranium by the United States would not eliminate its ability to create nuclear weapons.
Attempt to create misperceptions?
Separate WikiLeaks cables concerning Pakistani politicians could also prove embarrassing to its allies.
In one cable, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia derides President Asif Ali Zardari as the biggest hurdle to progress, stating, “When the head is rotten, it affects the whole body.”
President Zardari however received a tepid lukewarm "endorsement" from Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, "Zardarni [sic] is dirty but not dangerous," while… Sharif is “dangerous but not dirty – this is Pakistan. Sharif cannot be trusted to honor his promises,” a reference to Pakistan’s foremost opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif.
Farhatullah Babar, the president’s spokesman, said via text message that “President Zardari regards Saudi King Abdullah as his elder brother. The so called leaks are no more than an attempt to create misperceptions between two important and brotherly Muslim countries.”
Here's a BBC report saying "the world is a more corrupt place now than it was three years ago".
Some 56% of people interviewed by Transparency International said their country had become more corrupt.
In Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq and India more than 50% of people said they had paid a bribe in the past year - many of them paying off the police.
Meanwhile, a BBC poll suggests that corruption is the world's most talked about problem.
About one in five of those polled for the BBC by GlobeScan said they had discussed issues relating to corruption with others in the last month, making it the most talked about concern ahead of climate change, poverty, unemployment and rising food and energy costs.
In the Transparency International survey, political parties were regarded as the most corrupt institutions with 80% of people regarding them as corrupt.
Political parties also topped the list in Transparency's 2004 barometer, with 71%.
Religious bodies experienced a sharp rise in people regarding them as corrupt - 28% in 2004 increased to 53% by 2010.
Some 50% of people believed their government was ineffective at tackling the problem of corruption.
Transparency flagged up bribery as the major problem highlighted by the survey, with one in four of those polled saying they had paid a bribe in the past year.
Some 29% of bribes went to the police, 20% to registry and permit officials, and 14% to members of the judiciary.
Robin Hodess, Transparency's policy and research director, said police involvement in such transactions was "really worrying".
"It's a figure that's grown in the past few years. It's nearly doubled, in fact, since 2006. Nearly one in three people who had contact with the police around the world had to pay a bribe," she said.
While people from Cambodia (84%) and Liberia (89%) were the most likely to have to pay a bribe, the Danish respondents reported no bribery.
By region, people in sub-Saharan Africa were the most likely to have paid a bribe (56%).
Bribe-taking was least common in EU countries and North America (both 5%) - although these were the two regions seeing the biggest increase in concern about corruption.
Analysts blame this rising concern on the global financial crisis for undermining people's faith in government, banks and economic institutions.
The lobby group interviewed 90,000 people in 86 countries to compile its corruption barometer.
The opinion poll commissioned by the BBC sampled 13,000 people in 26 nations.
One question asked people to rate which issues they saw as most serious.
Corruption was ranked as the second most important topic behind poverty.
Respondents in Brazil, Egypt, Colombia, the Philippines and Kenya were especially likely to view corruption as a very serious issue.
In Europe, Italians were the most concerned about bribe-taking.
Publication of the BBC poll coincides with anti-corruption day held by the United Nations.
Indian Supreme Court appears to be following Pakistani Supreme Court's lead in fighting corruption.
Here's a BBC report:
India's Supreme Court has said that the practice of illegal funnelling of wealth overseas by Indians is a "pure and simple theft of national money".
The court also asked what the government was doing to retrieve the illegal money in foreign banks.
US-based group Global Financial Integrity has said that India has lost more than $460bn in such illegal flight of capital since Independence.
It said the illicit outflows increased after economic reforms began in 1991.
The report also said that almost three-quarters of the illegal money that comprises India's underground economy ends up outside the country.
India's underground economy has been estimated to account for 50% of the country's GDP - $640bn at the end of 2008.
Wednesday's remarks by the Supreme Court came when it was hearing a petition filed by a former federal Law Minister Ram Jethmalani and others on the alleged inaction of the government in bringing back illegal money parked overseas by rich Indians and companies.
In response, India's Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam submitted a sealed cover containing 16 names of individuals and companies who had accounts with a Liechtenstein-based bank.
"This is all the information you have or you have something more! We are talking about the huge money. It is a plunder of the nation," remarked Justice B Sudershan Reddy.
"It is a pure and simple theft of national money. We are talking about [a] mind-boggling crime.
Mr Subramaniam said the government was taking measures to bring back the illegal money, but said there were difficulties in sharing the information because of confidentiality treaties between countries.
"All we want is that you give all the information about the money deposited in the foreign banks by Indians. You cannot confine the petition to one bank," Justice SS Nijjar said.
The court has fixed 27 January as the next date of hearing.
Global Financial Integrity said the illegal flight of capital through tax evasion, crime and corruption had widened inequality in India.
High net-worth individuals and private companies were found to be primary drivers of illegal capital flows.
Here are some excerpts from The Guardian Op Ed on Cameron's warning to Pakistan to raise tax revenues:
Corruption, tax dodging by rich individuals and domestic companies, and tax dodging by multinational businesses all result in a massive flow of "illicit capital" out of developing countries that exceeds the aid they receive from rich nations. Three policy solutions are needed to help reverse this trend and truly fulfil the spirit of Cameron's remarks.
First, revenue officials in developing countries need to be able to follow the money that their rich elites have stashed in tax havens. At present, countries have to conclude individual treaties with each country from which they want this kind of information, and can only do so if that country is willing. This is cumbersome and cannot serve the interests of low-income countries. The UK is one of over a dozen countries that recently ratified a multilateral convention that could provide the solution – but only if developing countries are supported to join, and if tax havens are compelled to participate. The G20 summit in France in November is the opportunity to make this happen.
Second, anti-corruption and tax justice campaigners – and indeed some revenue officials – want multinational companies to break down their financial reports on a country-by-country basis. This proposal is being considered right now by the European commission, and was raised by the chancellor, George Osborne, at a recent G20 summit.
But the devil will be in the detail. If companies have to declare tax payments by country, it will be much harder for corrupt officials to spirit the money away. But if other information such as profits and sales is also included in the breakdown, we could scrutinise the tax payments themselves, holding companies and governments to account for the tax dodging that multinational companies can get away with.
Third and finally, we need the global network of anti-tax avoidance laws to be fit for purpose. It's unfortunate that changes to the UK's "controlled foreign companies" rules in last month's budget will open the floodgates to tax avoidance by British companies overseas. This could cost developing countries £4bn in revenues, effectively wiping out the value of half the British aid budget. At the same time, developing countries keen to crack down on such avoidance are being forced to adopt international "transfer pricing" rules that make them leak like sieves.
It's within the power of the British government to equip developing countries like Pakistan with the information, the rules and the enforcement capacity they need to raise much more tax revenue.
Today I had a conversation with someone who told me he was in Karachi for 6 years.
He was born and raised in Canada and went there for a job with Barclays. He does seem to have parents who were from Pakistan, however. He worked there and was involved in other banking industry orgs and also helped an NGO out.
I asked him for his impressions about the local system and the present state of the country. He has just returned home to Canada a few weeks ago.
He told me the system worked well and the mayor was a good mayor. He said he thought he did a very good job.
He also said right now country is in a deep mess. People in power seem to just want to take what money they can out of the system. he said this happening at all levels!
I would like you to be cognizant of the fact that now in Pakistan, corruption is at a scale that boggles the mind - at least it should boggle the mind. We are talking no longer millions but BILLIONS. We are talking about Pakistan's external debt shooting up by ten billion dollars in a short span of 3 years with nothing to show for it. I suspect the borrowed dollars have been purchased with corruption billions and transferred abroad. In the next 2 years huge repayments are maturing to the IMF and other lenders. The oil price may shoot up. Our exports reduce and our water supplies may stunt our agriculture. I don't see how we will be able to cope.
Billions are 'spent' by the government and as much as 40-50% if not more is diverted for pay-offs. There is hardly any development or relief going on anywhere. debt service has gone through the roof, being the biggest item in the budget. Poverty is rising, employment growth is nonexistent. Spending on social services had collapsed as there is no fiscal space.
Corruption is a HUGE component in both out fiscal and current account deficits. It has made a huge increase in both our domestic and international debt. it can corrupted the moral fiber of the country, especially the bureaucracy. Now the younger generation is actually embracing corruption as a perfectly acceptable way of life, looking at the leadership, the tycoons and the senior government officers as role models. They are actually openly defending the corruption of their families and expressing their intention to indulge in the same.
At last some one has the guts to speak up hoestly instead of just praising a criminal just because they dont want to rock the boat !
Here's an Op Ed by Prof Anatol Lieven published in the Guardian:
If Pakistan's chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, manages to press his charges of corruption against the president, Asif Ali Zardari, he will bring down the existing Pakistani government. If he extends his anti-corruption campaign to the political elites as a whole, he will bring down the entire existing political system – and replace it, his critics say, with a dictatorship made up of an unelected (and equally corrupt) judiciary.
The truth is that Pakistani politics revolves in large part around politicians' extraction of resources from the state by means of corruption, and their distribution to those politicians' followers through patronage. Radically changing this would mean gutting the existing Pakistani political system like a fish. Nor is it at all certain how popular the process would really be with most Pakistanis.
For while the greater part of this process of extraction and redistribution is illegal according to Pakistani law, how much of it is immoral in Pakistani culture is a much more complicated question. Every Pakistani politician accuses his rivals of corruption but, equally, the perception that he himself is "generous" and "honourable" to his own supporters is likely to be central to his own local prestige. If a public monument is ever erected to the Ideal Pakistani Politician, the motto "He dunks but he splashes", originally coined by Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, should be inscribed on its pedestal.
And this is not just a matter of cynical politics. It also obeys a fundamental moral imperative of local culture to be loyal to one's followers and, above all, one's kinfolk. The politician who is really despised is the kleptocrat who both steals immoderately and does not share the proceeds. As a result, a good deal of the proceeds of corruption does get distributed through parts of society, thereby helping to maintain what until recently has been the surprising underlying stability of the Pakistani political system.
The military is widely seen as relatively immune to corruption, and when it comes to its own internal workings, this is largely true – though it usually ceases to be true when generals go into politics. However, it is vitally important to note that this is in large part because for many decades the military as a whole has acted as a kind of giant patronage network, extracting a huge share of Pakistan's state resources via the defence budget and other concessions, and spending them on itself. Because – to its credit – it has distributed the resulting benefits in an orderly if hierarchical way among its generals, officers, non-commissioned officers and even to a degree privates, it has managed to keep a lid on corruption within the military itself. However, a belief is growing among ordinary soldiers, not just that the generals' perks are immoderate but that in some cases their families are using their connections to make huge corrupt fortunes outside the military.
As for Zardari, it seems highly doubtful that he can hang on much longer. The chief justice is pursuing him with bulldog determination and the letter of the law is on his side. The military has been infuriated by what it believes are his attempts to ally with Washington against it. It does not want another military government, but it does want a civilian regime that is much more responsive to its wishes. And the opposition want him out before, not after, senate elections that might just enable him to cling to the presidency even if as expected his Pakistan People's party is defeated in general elections due by early 2013. Whether getting rid of Zardari will fundamentally change Pakistani politics, however, is a very different matter.
Here are some excerpts from Raymond Baker's book "Capitalism's Achilles Heel" regarding Pakistan's venal politicians:
"While Benazir Bhutto hated the generals for executing her father, Nawaz Sharif early on figured out that they held the real power in Pakistan. His father had established a foundry in 1939 and, together with six brothers, had struggled for years only to see their business nationalized by Ali Bhutto’s regime in 1972. This sealed decades of enmity between the Bhuttos and the Sharifs. Following the military coup and General Zia’s assumption of power, the business—Ittefaq—was returned to family hands in 1980. Nawaz Sharif became a director and cultivated relations with senior military officers. This led to his appointment as finance minister of Punjab and then election as chief minister of this most populous province in 1985. During the 1980s and early 1990s, given Sharif ’s political control of Punjab and eventual prime ministership of the country, Ittefaq Industries grew from its original single foundry into 30 businesses producing steel, sugar, paper, and textiles, with combined revenues of $400 million, making it one of the biggest private conglomerates in the nation. As in many other countries, when you control the political realm, you can get anything you want in the economic realm."
Like Bhutto, offshore companies have been linked to Sharif, three in the British Virgin Islands by the names of Nescoll, Nielson, and Shamrock and another in the Channel Islands known as Chandron Jersey Pvt. Ltd. Some of these entities allegedly were used to facilitate purchase of four rather grand flats on Park Lane in London, at various times occupied by Sharif family members. Reportedly, payment transfers were made to Banque Paribas en Suisse, which then instructed Sharif ’s offshore companies Nescoll and Nielson to purchase the four luxury suites.
Upon taking office in 1988, Bhutto reportedly appointed 26,000 party hacks to state jobs, including positions in state-owned banks. An orgy of lending without proper collateral followed. Allegedly, Bhutto and Zardari “gave instructions for billions of rupees of unsecured government loans to be given to 50 large projects. The loans were sanctioned in the names of ‘front men’ but went to the ‘Bhutto-Zardari combine.’ ” Zardari suggested that such loans are “normal in the Third World to encourage industrialisation.” He used 421 million rupees (about £10 million) to acquire a major interest in three new sugar mills, all done through nominees acting on his behalf. In another deal he allegedly received a 40 million rupee kickback on a contract involving the Pakistan Steel Mill, handled by two of his cronies. Along the way Zardari acquired a succession of nicknames: Mr. 5 Percent, Mr. 10 Percent, Mr. 20 Percent, Mr. 30 Percent, and finally, in Bhutto’s second term when he was appointed “minister of investments,” Mr. 100 Percent.
Even though the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has denied that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto owned the valuable jewellery set currently in custody of Swiss authorities in the SGS case, the Geneva Federal Tribunal’s Court of Appeals verdict suggests that the legal owner of the expensive necklace was PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari or the “death estate [sic] of late Benazir Bhutto” and has suggested repatriating the set to Pakistan, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The government of Pakistan received the translated version of the verdict on Nov 10, and Law Ministry officials have exchanged notes with the government’s attorney in Switzerland on the status of the case and the options available to deal with the issue.
Zardari’s spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar told Pakistan Today that the former president’s counsel had already informed the Geneva tribunal that neither Benazir Bhutto nor any of her heirs had anything to do with the necklace. He said that there was no change in PPP’s stance after the verdict.
TRANSLATION OF JUDGEMENT:
In a letter sent to the federal secretary of law, François Roger Micheli, the government’s lawyer from Python & Peter pleading the case in Geneva, told the Attorney General for Pakistan: “We hereby transmit you the judgment of the Federal Tribunal (“FT”) of 29.10.2014, which rejects the ultimate recourse filed by Bomer Finance Inc [the company representing Asif Zardari and Benazir Bhutto]. The FT followed our line of argument and confirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal of Geneva.”
“The tribunal also decided that Jens Schlegelmilch, the board member of Bomer Finance Inc. had acted as the attorney for both Asif Ali Zardari (AAZ) and Benazir Bhutto (BB) – a fact contradicted by PPP leadership.”
“The gist of the attached decision is: Bomer Finance Inc. has not proven that it is the legal owner of the jewellery set. The FT adds that Jens Schlegelmilch has not proven that he acted in a capacity as board member of Bomer Finance Inc. when negotiating and acquiring the jewellery set; he appears to have acted as the attorney for the BB-AAZ couple. The FT adds that its analysis would be the same, even if the balance of the purchase price of the jewellery set had been paid from the account of Bomer Finance Inc.”
“The FT suggests that the legal owner of the jewellery set is AAZ, or the death estate of BB. The task you had given us is done, and the objective has been reached. The next significant steps are the confiscation of the jewellery set, its realization and (assuming Pakistan is interested) the repatriation of the proceeds there from to Pakistan. Please advise if we are to make endeavours towards that ultimate objective,” the letter stated.
ANOTHER LETTER, FUTURE STRATEGY:
In another letter sent on Nov 25 by the government’s attorney, Micheli told the AGP as a first reply that the material particulars of the case at hand were such that there was no obvious legal answer, nor any reliable precedent, with respect to deadlines for taking action.
“However, and in general, it is obvious that every route becomes increasingly difficult to implement as time goes by. I have made a preliminary legal research, and spoken (off the record) this day with the prosecutor in charge of the matter. We have exchanged views. The ways forward we contemplated, are the following,” stated the letter.
“Confiscation in the context of the Swiss penal proceeding: In practical terms, this route implies that (i) the jewellery set is confiscated in Switzerland, and thereupon (ii) that it is sold at public auction upon instructions by the Geneva Prosecutor’s office (this is standard procedure), and thereafter (iii) that the proceeds of the realisation of the jewellery set are shared between Pakistan and the Swiss authorities. This route is legally conceivable,”
CASE NOT TIME BARRED:
ISLAMABAD: An escape from a bad spell seven years ago gave Asif Ali Zardari access to the $60 million allegedly stashed in a Swiss bank, according to Pir Mohammad Ejaz, a spiritual mentor of the former president.
The pir, who remained by the side of Mr Zardari during his political ups and downs and even in his five-year stay in the presidency, told Dawn on Thursday outside an accountability court where Mr Zardari came on Thursday to face five references, including a money-laundering case.
“Zardari sahib got the money because of my meditation for which I spent a year in Madina in 2006,” he claimed.
Pir Ejaz removed the curtain from a mystery about when Mr Zardari got $60m and deposited it in a Swiss bank.
The former president could not draw the money for a long time because cases against him were pending in a Swiss court.
For the same money, Mr Zardari is facing a money-laundering case filed by the National Accountability Bureau. The NAB believes that it was the money Mr Zardari and other accused had acquired as commission for SGS Cotecna pre-shipment inspection.
The money was reportedly paid to Asif Zardari and other accused in Switzerland almost two decades ago.
“My meditation freed Mr Zardari from the bad spell he was under and in 2006 I called him from Madina to tell him that his case has been thrown into a blind well and he will soon get his money back,” he said.
During Thursday’s hearing, Pir Ejaz was seen standing outside the courtroom reciting verses from the Holy Quran.
“I have been protecting Mr Zardari from hardships since 2001, but when cases were being heard in a Swiss court I went to Madina for special meditation to save him.”
Pir Ejaz claimed that no evil can harm Mr Zardari now.
Zardari is angry with Pak Army after the Rangers' raid on the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) building over illegal construction and China Cutting – illegal use and sale of state owned land.
As a reminder, here's a story in NY Times from Aug 14, 2003:
Ms. Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who is jailed in Pakistan, were given six-month suspended sentences after an investigation by a Swiss magistrate. She was ordered to pay the Pakistani government nearly $12 million in restitution and was also ordered also ordered to hand over a necklace valued at $188,000.
Two former #Pakistan Generals punished in NLC corruption case by Military under Army Act: #ISPR http://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/pakistan/two-former-generals-punished-in-nlc-case-ispr/#.VcIwF-H-y-o.twitter
RAWALPINDI (Staff Report) – Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Wednesday said the two accused retired General Officers of Pakistan Army have been punished under the Pakistan Army Act in the light of inquiry conducted after violations were observed in NLC in 2009.
According to details the dismissal of Major-General (r) Khalid Zahir Akhter, implies forfeiture of rank, decorations, medals, honours, awards, seizure of pension, recovery of personal gains, cancellation of service benefits and all other allied facilities including medical whereas Lt-General (r) Muhammad Afzal has been awarded “Severe Displeasure” which in essence is a disciplinary award due to an offence of lesser degree.
On the other hand Lt-General (r) Khalid Munir Khan has not been found involved in any financial irregularity or serious misconduct and therefore stands absolved from all charges, ISPR statement said.
The inquiry was initiated by Defense Ministry after National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee noted irregularities in the audit report of National Logistic Cell (NLC) in 2009.
The widespread public applause following last week’s arrest of the high profile Pakistani politician Asim Hussain was a timely reminder of the South Asian country’s popular yearning for a stepped up attack on corruption.
Though granular details of the nature of the latest charges against Hussain remain a matter of speculation, it is clear that the charges eventually connect with energy related issues as Hussain previously served as the de facto minister of petroleum and natural resources.
Though a medical doctor by training, Hussain rose to fame through his widely known proximity to Pakistan’s former president Asif Ali Zardari. In fact, he continues to be seen as one of Zardari’s most loyal political lieutenants. In sharp contrast to his training as a medical doctor, Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chose Hussain in 2011 to serve as its de facto minister. At a time when energy shortages across Pakistan were acutely visible, Hussain’s appointment attracted widespread interest and subsequent criticism.
Ultimately then, many concluded that his choice for the job spoke more of the cronyism that has dominated Pakistan’s democratic politics in recent years, rather than merit. His arrest has been followed by news of the issuance of fresh non-bailable arrest warrants by a Pakistani court for the arrest of former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani of the PPP and former PPP minister Amin Fahim on corruption related charges.
These three initiatives involving Hussain, Gilani and Fahim however must not be seen in isolation from Pakistan’s overall direction. In recent months, an army-backed campaign in the southern port city of Karachi to restore law and order, has also targeted members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) as part of a long overdue clean-up.
The result has indeed been a marked improvement in Karachi’s daily atmosphere where robberies at gunpoint, purse snatching and mobile phone thefts were once a common occurrence. The PPP remains the other main political force in Karachi by virtue of ruling over the southern Sindh province of which Karachi is the local capital.
It is important to note that the cases of the three PPP politicians highlighted last week on the face of it are the work of civilian agencies. Yet, a combination of conventional wisdom along side comprehensive analysis of Pakistan’s conditions clearly reveals the obvious handprint of the army led by General Raheel Sharif.
It is clear that the Pakistan army is keen to oversee a long overdue attack on corruption. Clearly, the sudden pursuit of high profile PPP politicians by Pakistan’s anti-corruption official outfit, which for long remained complacent on the matter, has unleashed suggestions of mounting pressure from the army to push this process forward.
The Panama Papers reveal hidden wealth of 12 world leaders including #Pakistan #PM #NawazSharif in offshore account http://gu.com/p/4tvm5/stw
The hidden wealth of some of the world’s most prominent leaders, politicians and celebrities has been revealed by an unprecedented leak of millions of documents that show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes.
The Guardian, working with global partners, will set out details from the first tranche of what are being called “the Panama Papers”. Journalists from more than 80 countries have been reviewing 11.5m files leaked from the database of Mossack Fonseca, the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm.
The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with the Guardian and the BBC.
Though there is nothing unlawful about using offshore companies, the files raise fundamental questions about the ethics of such tax havens – and the revelations are likely to provoke urgent calls for reforms of a system that critics say is arcane and open to abuse.
The Panama Papers reveal:
Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.
A $2bn trail leads all the way to Vladimir Putin. The Russian president’s best friend – a cellist called Sergei Roldugin - is at the centre of a scheme in which money from Russian state banks is hidden offshore. Some of it ends up in a ski resort where in 2013 Putin’s daughter Katerina got married.
Among national leaders with offshore wealth are Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister; Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt’s former president; and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.
Six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs and dozens of donors to UK political parties have had offshore assets.
The families of at least eight current and former members of China’s supreme ruling body, the politburo, have been found to have hidden wealth offshore.
Twenty-three individuals who have had sanctions imposed on them for supporting the regimes in North Korea, Zimbabwe, Russia, Iran and Syria have been clients of Mossack Fonseca. Their companies were harboured by the Seychelles, the British Virgin Islands, Panama and other jurisdictions.
A key member of Fifa’s powerful ethics committee, which is supposed to be spearheading reform at world football’s scandal-hit governing body, acted as a lawyer for individuals and companies recently charged with bribery and corruption.
One leaked memorandum from a partner of Mossack Fonseca said: “Ninety-five per cent of our work coincidentally consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes.”
Names figuring in the (Panama) leak included the king of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq was also listed, the Guardian said.
The (Panama Papers) data contains secret offshore companies linked to the families and associates of Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak, Libya's former leader Muammar Gaddafi and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad as well.
The documents reveal many Israeli connections and disclose people with Israeli citizenship as well as Israeli banks and entities have used the offshore law firm to register companies in tax havens around the world, Haaretz reported.
Several Israeli banks appear in the files, Haaretz said. Bank Hapoalim managed some of its trusteeship activities for trust funds through the law firm. This activity, carried out by means of the subsidiary Poalim Trust Services, closed down in 2011. The documents also contains many correspondences concerning Bank Leumi activity in Jersey in the Channel Islands.
At least 33 people and companies in the documents had been blacklisted by the US for wrongdoing, such as some Iranian interests and those of Lebanon's Hezbollah, the ICIJ said.
One of the companies exposed in the leaked documents provided fuel for aircraft used by the Syrian government to bomb and kill thousands of its citizens, Haaretz said.
"These findings show how deeply ingrained harmful practices and criminality are in the offshore world," said Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the US-based University of California, Berkeley, and author of the book The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens.
Zucman, who participated in the ICIJ investigation, said that the publication of the leaked documents should encourage governments to impose “concrete sanctions” on countries where such firms are registered and on institutions that provide confidentiality for companies using tax havens, Haaretz said.
The leaked data from 1975 to the end of last year provides what the ICIJ described as a "never-before-seen view inside the offshore world."
The investigation yielded the millions of documents from about 214,000 offshore entities, the ICIJ said. The source of the documents, Mossack Fonseca, is a Panama-based law firm with offices in more than 35 countries. It is the world’s fourth-biggest offshore law firm, the Guardian said.
Though most of the alleged dealings are said by the ICIJ to be legal, they are likely to have serious political impact on many of those identified.
Among the main claims of the ICIJ investigations:
Close associates of Putin, who is not himself named in the documents, "secretly shuffled as much as $2bn through banks and shadow companies," the ICIJ said.
The files identified offshore companies linked to the family of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has led a tough anti-corruption campaign in his country, the ICIJ said.
In Iceland, the files allegedly show Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and his wife secretly owned an offshore firm holding millions of dollars in Icelandic bank bonds during the country's financial crisis.
The leaked documents were reviewed by a team of more than 370 reporters from over 70 countries, according to the ICIJ.
The BBC cited Mossack Fonseca as saying it had operated "beyond reproach" for 40 years and had never been charged with any criminal wrongdoing.
Haaretz, however, reported that authorities in the British Virgin Islands fined Mossack Fonseca $37,500 for violating laws against money laundering - it had registered a company in the name of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s son, but did not report its relationship to the two even after both father and son were charged with corruption in their country.
It was not immediately clear who was the original source of the leaked documents.
- See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/huge-tax-leak-exposes-leaders-saudi-pakistan-1560802862#sthash.VEvK4rvT.dpuf
#Iraq oil-for-food scam: #BenazirBhutto set up firm to siphon money to offshore account https://shar.es/1YT1wI via @sharethis #panamapapers
A committee set up by the United Nations under former head of US federal reserves Paul Volker found in 2005 that Petrofine FZC paid US$ 2 million commission to the regime of Saddam Hussein to win oil contracts worth US$115-145 million.
Former Pakistan prime minister late Benazir Bhutto, her aide Abdul Rehman Malik and nephew Hassan Ali Jaffery Bhutto set up a company, Petroline International Inc, in the British Virgin Islands in 2001. The trio were later accused of bribing the Iraqi government to bag contracts under the United Nation’s oil-for-food programme for a similarly named company Petrofine FZC, set up in Sharjah in 2000.
A committee set up by the United Nations under former head of US federal reserves Paul Volker found in 2005 that Petrofine FZC paid US$ 2 million commission to the regime of Saddam Hussein to win oil contracts worth US$115-145 million. In 2006, Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau claimed that Petroline FZC was owned by Bhutto, Malik and Ali Jaffery. Bhutto and her Pakistan Peoples Party denied the charges.
International law firm Mossack Fonseca’s (MF) records reviewed by The Indian Express show that the trio —Bhutto, Malik and Jaffery — set up a similarly named company in the British Virgin Islands but the political sensitivity of the association made MF eventually back out, saying that “the partners of the firm have decided not to accept Mrs Bhutto as a client”.
Did Benazir die because she bought 'jinxed' apartment in Manhattan?
One of the first owners of a penthouse apartment in New York's Manhattan area has said that former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto died because she had bought a jinxed apartment, which has a dark and mysterious history, in as much as who ever bought it met a tragic end. Seema Boesky, the ex-owner of the apartment, said that one potential buyer dropped the idea of buying the apartment at the close of the deal, only because he felt afraid he would meet the same fate. Two persons decided to finally buy it, one after the other. The first died before buying the property and the other - Benazir Bhutto - was killed a year after buying the penthouse, The News quoted Seema Boesky as saying in her article titled "The Cursed Apartment" published in The Wag magazine. Belair Apartments, a 42-storey building that houses the Bhutto-Zardari penthouse, is located on 524-E, 72nd street between York Avenue and the FDR drive. "My first buyer dropped dead at the closing. The second, with contract in hand, bolted down 47 flight of stairs, never to be heard from again," Seema writes in her article. Recalling her deal with Benazir, the final buyer of the penthouse, she said that first her husband Asif Ali Zardari took a round of the apartment, and after some days Benazir herself came to visit it. Seema writes, "a stunning woman with an engaging smile rang my doorbell. She took a full tour, including closets, and was very complimentary." "I love what you've done here. Your colour sense and style sensibility is much like mine," she quoted Benazir as saying. "She spoke of the vibrancy of New York City and how she enjoyed visiting. She took an interest in my family photos too, and, seeing pictures of my children, she commented that hers were in schools elsewhere so would not be living in the apartment," Seema further writes about Ms Bhutto's visit to the apartment. "We rode down the elevator together, and before bidding me farewell, she mentioned it was nice meeting me and felt we shared similar family values," writes Seema, the ex-wife of Ivan Boesky, the notorious Wall Street figure who became a household name in the US in the 1980s after paying 100 million dollars to settle insider-trading charges and serving two years in prison. "Driving home, I thought how much I liked her and hoped this couple would ultimately make the purchase. A few days later, they made an acceptable offer. I remember thinking how silly my broker was for believing my apartment was jinxed," she recalls.
Read more at: http://www.oneindia.com/2008/04/25/benazir-die-bought-jinxed-apartment-manhattan-1209112260.html
#Pakistan PM #NawazSharif's children raised £7m against #UK flats owned offshore. #PanamaPapersLeak http://gu.com/p/4tvnf/stw
The children of Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, raised a £7m loan from Deutsche Bank against four flats in Park Lane in London owned by offshore companies.
Acquired while Sharif was in opposition, the properties were owned by British Virgin Islands shelf companies on the books of the offshore agent Mossack Fonseca, the Panama Papers show.
The Sharif family’s investment in upmarket London property was disclosed in 1998 by Rehman Malik, a political opponent and the head of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency, who had fled to London after allegedly being arrested and tortured.
Malik compiled a report that he claimed showed the Mayfair homes had been bought using “ill-gotten wealth earned through corrupt practices”. He claimed they had not been declared on tax returns, in breach of Pakistani law.
In April 2000, after Sharif had been toppled from his second term as prime minister and put in prison by Pakistan’s then military leader, Pervez Musharraf, the country’s chief corruption prosecutor repeated the allegations, saying: “We believe the money used to buy these apartments was stolen from the people of Pakistan.”
Sharif and members of his family have always denied any wrongdoing, and none have ever been convicted of any offence. Supporters say the charges against them are politically motivated. It is not illegal to own property through an offshore company.
Yesterday the family responded to the furore in Pakistan with a statement saying the Panama Papers “have made no allegations of wrongdoing against the Sharif family”, and that “all of the corporations owned by the Sharif family are legal and financially sound”.
In October 2008, Nawaz Sharif’s son Hussain and daughter, Mariam, turned to the Swiss arm of Deutsche Bank to borrow large sums, using the flats as collateral.
Three BVI companies were used to raise the loan, which entitled Nawaz Sharif’s adult children to borrow £3.5m in cash and a further £3.5m in money to be invested in “liquid assets” by Deutsche Bank.
Deutsche Bank said: “We fully recognise the importance of this issue. We have enhanced our procedures for bringing clients on board and verifying with whom we are doing business, and our policies, procedures and systems are designed to ensure that we comply with all applicable rules and regulations.”
Deutsche began auditing its private banking clients in 2013, seeking confirmation that they complied with all relevant tax rules. Checks on its Swiss and Luxembourg clients are now understood to be complete.
The flats in question are at Avenfield House overlooking Park Lane, where Sharif was once photographed at a press conference with his political rival Benazir Bhutto. They are held by two BVI entities on the books of Mossack Fonseca, Nielsen Enterprises and Nescoll Limited.
At age 13, (Husain Nawaz son of Nawaz Sharif) created 4 offshore companies worth 30 million dollars and acquired 4 flats in Mayfair, London. The seed fund for these companies came from the ‘Tooth Fairy’ who was buying his teeth at meagre million dollars a pop. I am safely assuming this as his whole family paid an average tax of 70 dollars per year in the 3 decades before (and one decade after) he founded these companies. His family was more poor than 90% of Pakistani tax payers.
At age 17, he was already a self made billionaire. But then, all their assets were frozen by a military dictator. He went to KSA. Took a loan, built a steel factory, and in just four years, he earned so much money that he completely repaid the loan and bought many businesses all over the world. At age 21, he was a multi billionaire. His father, the Prime MInister of Pakistan, is lucky to have a son like him. The PM does not own anything. He is under debt of millions of dollars that he has to repay to his sons while Hussain is however a multi billionaire. It is just a co incidence that his father is a politician.
I am thinking what did Nawaz Sharif do with all this money. How the hell is he under so much debt. Maybe while his sons were working so hard, he was busy gambling and partying in Montecarlo? Destroying the hard earned fortune?
PS: At age 13, I did not know how to fill a bank form and I did not know what an offshore company was? But then I am not as bright as Hussain. However I am richer than his father so surely I am brighter than his father. http://www.baaghi.tv/be-like-hussain-nawaz-goes-viral-on-social-media/
#Pakistan overtakes #India for money stashed in #Swiss bank accounts
This is the first time in the last three years that the funds linked to Pakistan in Swiss banks have exceeded that of Indians.
In case of China, the total funds declined from CHF 8.16 billion to CHF 7.4 billion. A number of other major countries also saw their funds falling in Swiss banks amid a global clampdown against the erstwhile banking secrecy walls in the Alpine nation.
The money of US clients in Swiss banks fell to CHF 195 billion in 2015, from CHF 244 billion a year ago, though the same for the UK clients surprisingly rose from CHF 321 billion to CHF 345 billion.
However, these official figures disclosed by SNB do not include the money that the foreign clients of Swiss banks might have kept in the name of shadow entities or shell companies.
Also, these figures do not indicate towards the quantum of alleged black money, which has been a matter of a major political debate in various countries including India and Pakistan.
As per the SNB data, the total funds linked to Pakistan in Swiss banks stood at a record high level of CHF 3.43 billion in the year 2001, but has come down considerably since then.
By 2013, it fell to as low as CHF 1.23 billion, the lowest since 1996 since when this data is available. However, it has risen by 6 per cent and 16 per cent during the last two years 2014 and 2015, respectively.
In case of India, the quantum of such funds has fallen in the last two years.
Here are a couple of excerpts from "Playing with Fire" by Pamela Constable:
"Sugar is critical commodity in a country (Pakistan) where people consume vast amounts of sweet tea, soft drinks, and cakes, using about 4 million metric tons of sugar a year. .....Sugar is also very profitable. Pakistan is among the top five producers of sugar cane in the world, employing more than two million seasonable laborers at harvest time, and sugar refining is the second largest agribusiness after flour milling. According to National Accountability Bureau, a majority of country'd eighty-plus sugar mills are owned by political families, including Sharifs and Bhuttos, as well as members of parliament and several military-controlled enterprises."
"In Pakistan, the sugar industry is actually a political industry in which powerful politicians on all sides are involved", said a 2009 statement from the Sugar Mills Workers Federation that described how the big millers cheat mall growers through fake middlemen, then manipulate sugar prices by pressuring the government to stimulate or discourage exports depending on how much cane has been harvested."
"Throughout the 1990s, during two periods of rule by Sharifs and two by his archrial Benazir Bhutto, the privatization process became a game of grab and run. Investing of investing in solid projects, many business groups colluded with corrupt officials to make quick profits. They borrowed huge sums (from state-owned banks) without collateral, created and dissolved ghost factories, purchased state assets at token prices, avoided paying taxes, defaulted on shaky loans, or deferred paying them indefinitely....Major defaulters and beneficiaries of loan write-offs, granted by both the Bhuttos and Sharif governments, included some of Pakistan's wealthiest business families-- Manshas, Saigols, Hashwanis, Habibs, Bhuttos and Sharifs......using the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the (Musharraf) regime (after year 2000) went to prosecute eighteen hundred cases of corruption to recover nearly $3.4 billion in assets."
#Pakistan's Khanani group launders billions of dollars: US report. #UAE, #US, #UK, #Canada, #moneylaundering
In its section on Pakistan, the report notes: “The Altaf Khanani money laundering organisation (Khanani MLO) is based in Pakistan. The group, which was designated a transnational organised crime group by the United States in November 2015, facilitates illicit money movement between, among others, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), United States, UK, Canada, and Australia.”
The group “is responsible for laundering billions of dollars in organised crime proceeds annually. The Khanani MLO offers money laundering services to a diverse clientele, including Chinese, Colombian, and Mexican organised crime groups and individuals associated with designated terrorist organisations”, the report adds.
It describes Pakistan as strategically located country at the nexus of south, central and western Asia, with a coastline along the Arabian Sea. The report notes that Pakistan’s porous borders with Afghanistan, Iran and China facilitate the smuggling of narcotics and contraband to overseas markets.
“The country suffers from financial crimes associated with tax evasion, fraud, corruption, trade in counterfeit goods, contraband smuggling, narcotics trafficking, human smuggling/trafficking, terrorism and terrorist financing,” the report points out.
“There is a substantial demand for money laundering and illicit financial services due to the country’s black market economy and challenging security environment.”
The report notes that money laundering in Pakistan affects both the formal and informal financial systems. Pakistan does not have firm control of its borders, which facilitates the flow of illicit goods and monies into and out of Pakistan.
The report, however, acknowledges that most Pakistanis living abroad use legal channels for sending money home. From January to December 2016, the Pakistani diaspora remitted $19.7 billion back to Pakistan via the formal banking sector, up by 2.3 per cent from 2015.
The report notes that while it is illegal to operate a hawala without a licence in Pakistan, the practice remains prevalent because of poor ongoing supervision efforts and a lack of penalties levied against illegally operating businesses. “Unlicensed hawala/hundi operators are also common throughout the broader region and are widely used to transfer and launder illicit money through neighbouring countries,” the report adds.
Common methods for transferring illicit funds include fraudulent trade invoicing, unlicensed hundis and hawalas and bulk cash smuggling.
The report says that criminals exploit import/export firms, front businesses and the charitable sector to carry out their activities. Pakistan’s real estate sector is another common money laundering vehicle, since real estate transactions tend to be poorly documented and cash-based, it adds.
The report notes that in January 2015, Pakistan launched the National Action Plan (NAP), addressing primarily counter-terrorist financing. The government’s implementation of the NAP “has yielded mixed results, which is in part due to the lack of institutional capacity as well as political will,” the report adds.
“Unlicensed hawaladars continue to operate illegally throughout
Pakistan, particularly in Peshawar and Karachi, though under the NAP Pakistan has reportedly been pursuing illegal hawala/hundi dealers and exchange houses.”
The report says that Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency, which is responsible for investigating money laundering cases, lacks the capacity to pursue complicated financial investigations.
Uzair Baloch spills the beans about #PPP top leaders' corruption & backing of #crime, violence in #Karachi #Pakistan
In his confessional statement, dated April 29, 2016, Uzair testified that he joined a gang led by Abdul Rehman alias Rehman Dakait in 2003 and was incarcerated in the Central Jail, Karachi where he was appointed incharge of the prisoners belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on the recommendation of then jail superintendent Nusrat Mangan and PPP leader Faisal Raza Abedi.
In the statement available with The Express Tribune, Uzair disclosed that he assumed full-fledged command of the gang after Dakait was killed in an encounter in 2008 and formed an ‘armed terrorist’ group under the name of the Peoples Aman Committee (PAC) and became its chairperson.
He confessed to have collected Rs20 million extortion from different persons and departments every month, adding that the fisheries department would pay Rs2 million.
He also disclosed that PPP MNA Faryal Talpur, sister of party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, was given Rs10 million extortion every month. According to the alleged gangster, Dr Saeed Baloch and Nisar Morai were posted to the fisheries department on his recommendation.
“I maintained a friendly relationship with the [then] Karachi Capital City Police Officer Waseem Ahmed, SSP Farooq Awan and his brother Shahadat Awan [a lawyer and currently posted as prosecutor general of Sindh],” Uzair disclosed, adding he had done several favours for them, including helping Farooq and Shahadat encroach land in Malir. He also got Farooq to collect Rs150,000 to Rs200,000 in extortion every month.
The incarcerated gangster disclosed that on the insistence of Senator Yousuf Baloch he met the then chief minister Qaim Ali Shah and Talpur and asked them to get the head money and cases against him withdrawn, which was eventually done by Talpur and Zardari.
In his statement, Uzair disclosed that after the Karachi operation was intensified he was called through Qadir Patel and Senator Yousuf by Talpur to her Defence residence, where Sharjeel Inam Memon and Morai were also present. According to him, Talpur discussed various issues the including Lyari gang war, and offered to hide his personal arms and explosives and have Sharjeel and Morai handle his financial affairs and Yousuf and Patel handle affairs in Lyari if he wanted to flee the country.
He testified to have done various illegal works for the party, including helping Patel encroach land and providing 500 jobs to criminals on Yousuf’s insistence. He also admitted to have helped Owais Muzaffar Tapi, Zardari’s foster brother, illegally occupy 14 sugar mills that were later purchased at lower prices.
Uzair also claimed to have sent 20 of his men to harass residents around Bilawal House on Zardari’s instructions and force them to sell 30 to 40 bungalows to Zardari at lower prices. The gangster said he came to know about a plan to kill him while in police custody, so he pleaded to have his custody transferred to the Rangers.
The former Lyari kingpin had also requested complete protection, apprehending that he and his family members could be killed after these revelations, as he expected revenge from Zardari and other politicians he named in his statement.
#Pakistan NAB recovers Rs2.12 billion thru plea bargain. #Sindh #PPP took bribes for Illegal favors to Technomen Kinetic and Others in Projects of Sindh Nooriabad Power Company and Sindh Transmission and Dispatch Company (STDC). #corruption #OmniGroup https://www.brecorder.com/2019/07/30/513816/nab-recovers-rs2-12-billion-through-plea-bargain// National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Rawalpindi has recovered Rs 2.12 billion through Plea Bargain (PB) from the accused Asif Mahmood, Arif Ali Directors – Technomen Kinetics (Pvt) Ltd involved in collusive bidding, exorbitant rates, corruption and corrupt practices in power generation projects of Sindh.
According to NAB spokesman, plea bargain has been approved in case of Investigation Against Holder of Public Office, Legal Person and Others Involved in Fake Bank Accounts Scam Regarding Extending Illegal favours to M/S Technomen Kinetic (Pvt) Ltd, and Others in Projects of Sindh Nooriabad Power Company and Sindh Transmission and Dispatch Company (STDC) and Misappropriation of Funds.
As per details, Accused Asif Mahmood S/o Syed Irfan Ali and Accused Arif Ali, Directors – Technomen Kinetics (Pvt) Ltd, Sindh Nooriabad Power Company (Pvt) Ltd, Sindh Nooriabad Power Company (Pvt) Ltd Phase-II in connivance with Government officials and others were proved to be involved in collusive bidding, exorbitant rates, Corruption and Corrupt practices in power generation projects of Sindh.
During investigation both accused submitted plea bargain application of Rs. 2.12 Billion to NAB authorities, which will be submitted to Accountability Court for final approval by the Investigation team comprising Younis and Hammad Kamal.
NAB Rawalpindi has once again resolved to vigorously pursue all the corruption cases on merit and with objectivity irrespective of the status of accused in pursuance to Chairman’s vision of Look at cases and not faces.
Ex #French PM Balladur to stand trial over 'arms deal kickbacks' from #Pakistan. The investigation was launched after 11 French submarine engineers were murdered in #Karachi in a 2002 bomb attack on the bus carrying them. #corruption
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/10/01/former-french-prime-minister-stand-trial-arms-deal-kickbacks/?WT.mc_id=tmg_share_tw via @telegraphnews
ormer French prime minister Edouard Balladur is to stand trial at a special court over charges that kickbacks from the sale of submarines to Pakistan helped finance his 1995 presidential election campaign.
The trial comes over years of investigations into the "Karachi Affair", a series of nebulous dealings by middlemen involving possible "retro-commissions" linked to the sale of Agosta class submarines by the French government to Pakistan in the 1990s.
The investigation was launched after 11 French submarine engineers were murdered in Karachi in a 2002 bomb attack on the bus transporting them. It was initially blamed on al-Qaeda terrorists, but investigating judges also looked into whether the blast was to punish France for failing to pay part of €80 million (£71m) in sweeteners to senior Pakistani officials.
When Jacques Chirac beat Mr Balladur, now 90, to become French president in 1995, it is alleged that he punished his one-time ally for running against him by halting the remaining payments to Pakistani middlemen.
Ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, who was budget minister and spokesman for Mr Balladur's presidential campaign at the time, has previously angrily rejected media speculation that he might have known of the payments as “grotesque".
Mr Balladur will stand trial before the Court of Justice of the Republic, set up to try cases of current and former ministers. He and his former defence minister, François Léotard, face charges of “complicity in the abuse of public funds” and concealing this alleged crime. They had been under official investigation since 2017.
In all, investigating magistrates believe that Mr Balladur received 13 million francs (around £1.8m) for the sale of submarines to Pakistan but also frigates to Saudi Arabia. Mr Léotard is notably accused of setting up an “opaque circuit” of arms dealers linked to both countries.
Mr Balladur is accused of receiving some 10 million francs of the kickbacks "in cash", said François Molins, the prosecutor general, in a statement.
Both defendants deny any wrongdoing.
François Martineau et Félix de Belloy, Mr Balladur’s lawyer, said his client was “confident in the outcome of this trial in that he never committed any of the acts held against him”.
By the time he was ousted from power, Zulfikar had become so convinced of his own greatness and indispensability that he did not believe the generals would dare hang him. As I shall describe, there is good reason to believe that he only came to realise that he would actually be hanged a few hours before it happened. As for Benazir, her continued engagement in politics was not just a case of giving up the comforts of Dubai and New York so that she could fight for her ideals. Her political comeback in 2007 also enabled her to get all the legal cases against her overturned. The amnesty she secured from General Musharraf scuppered a Swiss trial in which there was a very high chance she would have been convicted of, among other things, using money from bribes to buy a necklace worth $175,000.
Bennett-Jones, Owen. The Bhutto Dynasty (pp. 14-15). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.
Ghulam Murtaza’s experience entrenched the Bhuttos’ view that there was always a way around legal cases. It is a view that has recurred across the generations. By working within the legal system to secure acquittals, the Bhuttos were taking advantage of what many colonial administrators saw as a weakness in their judicial arrangements. If a British official such as Mayhew made accusations against someone such as Ghulam Murtaza and the court found him innocent, then Mayhew’s authority was undermined. From the point of view of the Bhuttos, however, the system meant they could behave in their locality much as they always had and then work on securing exoneration in the courts. Some landowners tried to reject the British system altogether. The Bhuttos played a subtler game of securing their objectives by working within it. For over a century now, many Bhuttos, from Ghulam Murtaza through to Bilawal, seem to have believed that making legal accusations against them is a political tool wielded by opponents.
Bennett-Jones, Owen. The Bhutto Dynasty (p. 31). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.
As normal, she stood on the back seat, her head and shoulders sticking out of the emergency hatch above the roof. It was ten past five in the afternoon. Having waited all day, Bilal saw that his moment had come. He moved first to the front of the car and then to the side where there were fewer people, took out his pistol and pointed it at Benazir’s head. One of the guards clawed at the young man but, although he touched his arm, he was slightly too far away to get a firm grip. Bilal fired three shots in less than a second. As the second shot rang out, Benazir’s headscarf, or dupatta, moved away from her face. After the third, she fell like a stone, through the escape hatch, into the vehicle. As she did so, Bilal set off his suicide bomb. ‘I turned my face and she was on my lap,’ recalled Naheed Khan, who had been sitting on the car’s back seat, beside Benazir. ‘And her blood was oozing like I can’t explain to you. I have no words to say. Her blood was oozing. My hands, my – she was soaked in blood. My whole clothes were soaked in blood.’ Naheed Khan’s medically trained husband, Dr Safdar Abbasi, was also in the vehicle. ‘You know, I was trying to see her pulse and I was finding it very difficult, you know, to get to her pulse. But naturally, we had to take her to hospital. By that time, you know, the Jeep was all alone. There was no police car. There was no
Bennett-Jones, Owen. The Bhutto Dynasty (p. 11). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.
backup car.’5 There was no backup car because, inexplicably, Benazir’s security chief, Rehman Malik, had driven away. He later gave a bewildering number of different accounts of his actions in those moments. In a TV interview shortly after the blast he said his car had been just 4 feet away from Benazir’s vehicle when Bilal had blown himself up. He claimed he then led Benazir’s car to the hospital and remained there. In a different interview shortly afterwards, he said that his car was moving in front of Benazir’s and that immediately after the bomb went off they accelerated, fearing another attack. Initially Benazir followed, but, after some time, they saw that Benazir’s car was no longer behind them; so they did a U-turn and returned. Both accounts – and other versions he gave – were completely untrue. In fact, Rehman Malik, together with others who were sharing his car, simply left the scene and headed for Islamabad. A decade later, when asked why he had done this, Malik said he had been following police instructions. Another occupant of the car, Benazir’s longstanding and famously loyal spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, gave a similar account, although he added that allowing himself to be driven away that day was the greatest regret of his life.6
Bennett-Jones, Owen. The Bhutto Dynasty (pp. 11-12). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.
Benazir Bhutto's interview with Alice Winkler in year 2000 (at 22:52):
"Now I say that when there were these demands, why didn't I have the — I did say make an information act but didn't follow it through, so I wish I had given more freedom of information. I wish I had tackled the so-called corruption issues more deeply. It was a precedent, you know. We all knew
kickbacks must be taken. Not personally, but on the level that, "Well, these things happen." And it wasn't like, "Well, we're here to change it." It was like, "This is how business is done.""
Asset declarations to be made public under IMF condition
Govt can exempt judiciary, armed forces’ members from disclosure
The government is walking a tight rope to implement all conditions by end of this month, if it is keen to get the IMF Board’s approval for the loan tranche on January 12.
The sources said that the IMF has imposed another condition that the high-level public office holders and the civil servants of basic pay scale (BPS) 17 and above, their spouses, children or benamidars, or any person in relation to whom these persons are beneficial owners will file their asset declarations with the Federal Board of Revenue. These assets will be then made public.
The government has also defined the high-level public officials who will be required to file their declarations which will be made public. An amendment is being drafted where only politically exposed persons defined by a rule, regulation, executive order or instrument; or under any law for the time being in force would be required to file their declarations, the sources said.
The government had resisted the demand to ensure compulsory declaration on the grounds that these people were already required to submit their asset details in the Establishment Division. However, the IMF did not agree to it and instead asked Pakistan that such declarations should be filed with the tax authorities.
However, many bureaucrats did not file their asset declarations, nor did they submit their annual income tax returns, including many taxmen.
The IMF’s view was that any important position holder drawing salary from the budget should disclose assets to ensure transparency.
“The disclosure of information in respect of high-level public officials is proposed in line with the requirements of the development partners, rule of law and integrity,” the note sent by the FBR chairman to the finance adviser about changes being made in the tax laws read.
However, the government has found a way out where the declarations filed by members of the armed forces would not be made public, the sources said, adding that the exception has been created by Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem.
Barrister Naseem was not available for comments.
The sources said that the requirement of non-disclosure of the asset declarations would not be applicable on those who were currently exempted from the applicability of the National Accountability Ordinance.
A proviso is likely to be inserted in the law that will state that nothing in clause (t) shall apply to those who are expressly exempted under clause (iv) of sub-section (m) of Section 5 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
What Clause 5 (m) (iv) says?
A person who is holding, or has held, an office or post in the service of Pakistan, or any service in connection with the affairs of the Federation, or of a province, or of a local council constituted under any federal or provincial law relating to the constitution of local councils, or in the management of corporations, banks, financial institutions, firms, concerns, undertakings or any other institution or organisation established, controlled or administered by or under the federal government or a provincial government, other than a person who is a member of any of the armed forces of Pakistan, or for the time being is subject to any law relating to any of the said forces, except a person who is, or has been a member of the said forces and is holding, or has held, a post or office in any public corporation, bank, financial institution, undertaking or other organisation established, controlled or administered by or under the federal government or a provincial government.
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