Tuesday, September 1, 2020

What is the "Evidence" of "Corruption" Against Retired General Asim Saleem Bajwa?

Pakistani reporter Ahmad Noorani has alleged that CPEC Authority Chairman Asim Bajwa's wife Farrukh Zeba is a shareholder in Bajwa family business. Noorani, currently on Alfred Friendly fellowship in the United States, further alleges that the value of these holdings has been under-reported by General Asim Bajwa in his declaration of assets that he made recently in his position as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM).  What Bajwa family business is Mr. Noorani referring to? It is Bajco, a business that Asim Bajwa's brother Nadeem Bajwa built in the United States. Noorani has made multiple allegations of corruption against CPEC Authority Chairman Asim Bajwa. Of these allegations, the only one that may require further investigation is that General Asim Bajwa may have deliberately understated the value of his wife Farrukh Zeba's shares in Bajco, a company built by Asim Bajwa's brother Nadeem Bajwa who is a self-made millionaire. Undervaluing assets is the kind of allegation that many apply to many Pakistani politicians, judges, bureaucrats and others who are required by law to disclose their assets.

General Asim Bajwa's Wife's Shareholdings



Evidence Cited:

Ahmad Noorani has cited a document signed by Asim Bajwa's brothers and his wife as proof of ownership by Mrs. Asim Bajwa. They have also shared General Asim Bajwa's declaration of assets which clearly says "shares in family business" held "in wife's name" and values them at Rs. 3.1 million. Noorani says the value of shares is significantly understated.  Noorani also alleges that "(T)he growth of the Bajwa family’s business empire in the United States and later in Pakistan directly matches the rise in power of retired general Asim Saleem Bajwa, who is now chairman of the country’s massive China-financed infrastructure project and a special assistant to the prime minister".  Noorani implies that Nadeem Bajwa's success is built on his brother Asim Bajwa's corrupt earnings.

General Asim Bajwa's Declaration of Assets


Who is Nadeem Bajwa?

Nadeem Bajwa is General Saleem Bajwa's younger brother. While it is true that Nadeem Bajwa owns a large Papa Johns' franchise business in the United States, there is nothing to support the allegation that this business has been built with funds stolen and remitted from Pakistan. Nadeem Bajwa is a self-made millionaire. His story is, in fact, typical of many successful Pakistani immigrants who have worked hard to achieve entrepreneurial success in America.  The best example of a Pakistani immigrant's franchise success story is that of Shoukat Dhanani whose Dhanani Group's annual revenue is over $2 billion, according to Forbes magazine. Other examples of Pakistani immigrant multi-restaurant franchise success stories include Aziz HashimAslam KhanTabassum MumtazAli ButtShoukat Dhanani and many more. Most of them started as drivers, cooks or cashiers and then bought and built up their franchise successes.

Nadeem Bajwa's Success Story:

Nadeem Bajwa came to the United States as a student in 1991. He took a job as a pizza delivery driver for Domino's while going to college in Indiana. “The delivery driver job was one of the easiest when going to school,” Bajwa told Nation's Restaurant News in 2014. “There wasn’t a lot of stress or pressures and other students were doing it. I heard they made good pay, and every day you just deliver pizzas and make decent tips.”

In 1994, Bajwa took a job with Papa John’s as a driver, was quickly promoted to general manager and then operating partner within 10 months — all while continuing his education. “I was busy, and then when I got promoted I was still finishing up school,” he said. “But when you have goals in mind, you just keep going. Sometimes anxiety isn’t such a bad thing.”  Bajwa signed his first franchise in 2002 and then grew his business from there.

The franchisees such as Nadeem Bajwa's main asset is the prior franchise operations experience they bring. Franchisee and his/her partners/investors must also come up with 10-20% of the total funds needed to start operations. The rest of the money comes from commercial banks or other lenders such as the US Small Business Administration (SBA). Borrower must be creditworthy, typically must contribute some equity, and are expected to repay the loan out of the franchise's cash flow. The franchise loans from US Small Business Administration (SBA) offer the lowest rates. Some franchisers may also offer internal financing, according to Wall Street Journal.

Summary:

Pakistani reporter Ahmad Noorani has made multiple allegations of corruption against CPEC Authority Chairman Asim Bajwa. Of these allegations, the only one that may require further investigation is that General Asim Bajwa may have deliberately understated the value of his wife Farrukh Zeba's shares in Bajco, a company built by Asim Bajwa's brother Nadeem Bajwa who is a self-made millionaire. Undervaluing assets is the kind of allegation that may apply to many Pakistani politicians, judges, bureaucrats and others who are required by law to disclose their assets.  Nadeem Bajwa started in a low-level job in a pizza restaurant and worked his way up. His story is a typical immigrant success story like many other immigrant success stories in America.  Other examples of Pakistani immigrant multi-restaurant franchise success stories include Aziz HashimAslam KhanTabassum MumtazAli ButtShoukat Dhanani and many more. Most of them started as drivers, cooks or cashiers and then bought and built up their franchise successes.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Did Musharraf Steal Public Money? 

Pakistani Leaders in London After Panama Leaks

Edible Arrangements: A Pakistani-American Franchisor's Success Story

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

Zardari Corruption Probe

President Pervez Musharraf's Legacy

We Hang Petty Thieves and Appoint Great Ones to High Offices

Capitalism's Achilles Heel by Raymond Baker

Nawaz Sharif's Report Card

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

15 comments:

PPP Fan said...

The trail is clear and wealth can be seen. How did Mrs. Bajwa acquire a stake, out of largesse from her brothers? Or our beloved Jarnail sb has pumped in the money? When was the stake acquired. What is the source of the funds. Time for Bajwa's to answer to the public.

Lack of probity in our professionals from Rawalpindi cannot be tolerated. Hope COAS takes cognizance. Time for Naya Pakistan to emerge out of this morass.

Anonymous said...

General Asim Saleem Bajwa has tweeted rebuttal of all charges leveled against him by Ahmad Noorani.


I strongly rebut the baseless allegations levelled against me and my family.Alhamdolillah another attempt to damage our reputation belied/exposed.I have and will always serve Pakistan with pride and dignity.


https://twitter.com/asimsbajwa/status/1301528438633902082?s=21

Riaz Haq said...

SAPM Bajwa said all of the allegations – including the one that his brothers’ business in the United States and its growth is relatable to his promotion in the Pakistan Army – are “materially false”.


https://tribune.com.pk/story/2262361/lt-gen-retd-asim-bajwa-rebuts-baseless-allegations-against-him-and-his-family


He added that a random mention has been made in “the news broken by Mr. Ahmed Noorani on an unknown website on 27.08.2020” regarding the businesses and properties owned by his family members “with sweeping allegations regarding their evaluation” and authenticity.

The PM’s aide also said that in June this year when he had declared his assets as SAPM his wife was neither an investor nor a shareholder in any business, including that of his brothers.

“My wife had disinvested all her interests at 1/6/2020 in any entity abroad and such fact has been duly documented in the official records in the USA,” he wrote in the rebuttal.

The purpose of the news item is to malign my reputation “if one looks at actual figures without any prejudice”, he added.

Regarding claims about his brothers’ business, Lt Gen (retd) Bajwa clarified that the Bajco Global Management, LLC doesn’t own any company as it is just a management company which provides services to all Bajco-related businesses on a fee basis.

“Bajco Global Management, LLC does not have any ownership interest in any Papa John’s in the US, DQ and UAE or in any real estate,” he added.

SAPM Bajwa also set aside the assertions that his bothers’ company, Silkline Enterprises, was formed to acquire CPEC-related contracts. The company has only provided human resources to industries situated in the southern Punjab district of Rahim Yar Khan, he added.

The CPEC Authority chairman also provided details of the companies and properties owned by his children.

The private firm, Scion Builders and Estate, which is also registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and owned by one of Bajwa’s sons has never done any business and has been dormant since its formation, according to the statement.

Regarding another company, Lt Gen (retd) Bajwa said his son who owns 50 per cent share in Himalaya (PVT) Ltd is a very small firm and during the last three years it made a nominal profit of Rs500,000.

Krypton, a mining and mineral firm that the journalist alleged one of Bajwa’s sons had acquired while his father was posted in Balochistan as commander Southern Command “has always been dormant and has never done any business”.

Athar O. said...

Not convincing at all. Mujhe bhi aisa karobar bata dein jo $73,000 ko $70 million mein convert kerta ho! That's a 1000x return. Kissi American VC Ka bhi Nahi Hoga!

Arshad K. said...

The real question is, against what collaterals did an American Bank give $60 million dollar loan to Bajwa clan ?

Riaz Haq said...

Arshad: " The real question is, against what collaterals did an American Bank give $60 million dollar loan to Bajwa clan ?"

Bajwas didn’t get $60 million in loans all at once...it’s built over 18 years with multiple additions of franchise units and loans for each one at a time. The collateral are franchise units and the huge cash flow they generate

Franchise business is a tried and true path to riches for many hardworking immigrants in America. They usually start out in a low level job like cook or driver and work their way up. The franchisees such as Nadeem Bajwa's main asset is the prior franchise operations experience they bring. Franchisee and his/her partners/investors must also come up with 10-20% of the total funds needed to start operations. The rest of the money comes from commercial banks or other lenders such as the US Small Business Administration (SBA). Borrower must be creditworthy, typically must contribute some equity, and are expected to repay the loan out of the franchise's cash flow. The franchise loans from US Small Business Administration (SBA) offer the lowest rates. Some franchisers may also offer internal financing, according to Wall Street Journal.Nadeem Bajwa started in a low-level job in a pizza restaurant and worked his way up. His story is a typical immigrant success story like many other immigrant success stories in America. Other examples of Pakistani immigrant multi-restaurant franchise success stories include Aziz Hashim, Aslam Khan, Tabassum Mumtaz, Ali Butt, Shoukat Dhanani and many more. Most of them started as drivers, cooks or cashiers and then bought and built up their franchise successes.

Riaz Haq said...

Athar: "Mujhe bhi aisa karobar bata dein jo $73,000 ko $70 million mein convert kerta ho! That's a 1000x return. Kissi American VC Ka bhi Nahi Hoga!"

Read the 4 page rebuttal by Asim Bajwa.

https://twitter.com/asimsbajwa/status/1301528438633902082?s=21

It answers every allegation raised quite convincingly. Bajwas equity is about $10 million while the assets are worth $70 billion. It's return for personal hard-work and dedication over a couple of decades does happen in restaurant franchise business. There are many examples of it among Pakistani immigrant entrepreneurs in America. I know it won’t satisfy the anti-military types desperate to distract attention from the crimes of venal politicians whose teenage children become millionaires overnight.

Riaz Haq said...


What Does A Papa John’s Franchise Make?

https://www.franchise.com/blog/what-does-papa-johns-franchise-make/

By Kelly MangumJanuary 18, 2019


● Papa John’s was founded in 1984 and has been offering franchise opportunities since 1986.
● You can start a Papa John’s franchise with an initial investment of as low as $300K
● Liquidity Requirements: Papa John’s calls for at least $70K in liquid assets
● Net-worth Requirements: $250K (for 1 unit, and $1 million for up to 10 units)
● Franchise Fees: As low as $25K plus royalty fee of 5 percent of monthly net sales (also payable monthly)
● Advertising/Marketing Fee: 8 percent of monthly sales

-------------------

What Does a Papa John’s Franchise Make?
The franchise dictates all the financial info you might want to know within their franchise agreement document (FDD) which is released annually. According to a recent FDD, you can pull in an average of $781, 202 in revenue from your Papa John’s franchise. A company owned location brings in a slightly higher average of $966,460 in annual revenue.
Costs of Operation (Expenses) of a Papa John’s Franchise

While they don’t officially release cost break-down for franchise locations, you can still estimate these using figures for company locations. According to recent stats, the average costs associated with running a Papa John’s location are:
● $284,000 on food costs (or nearly a third of revenue)
● $194,000 on labor and labor-related costs (a fifth of the revenue)
● $89,000 on marketing and advertising (approximately 9 percent of the revenue)
● $45,000 on mileage (about 5 percent of revenue)
● $44,000 on location manager costs
● $22,000 on store deals and bonuses
● $44,000 on tech, supplies, uniforms and other miscellaneous items
● $34,000 on location maintenance, lease, and rent

From that, you can easily determine that the cost of operating a franchise is approximately $824,500. That means that pre-tax profit is around $142,000, which spells approximately 14 percent of the total annual revenue.

Papa John's Franchise - After-Tax Profit
For franchisees, there are a few adjustments you might want to put into consideration. For starters, some franchise stores do experience lower sales due to poor location, insufficient advertising or inadequate sitting. Also, a franchisee has to pay the mandatory 5 percent of net sales towards royalty fee as well as put in at least 8 percent of the profit towards advertising and marketing. All things considered, a Papa John’s franchise can expect to make around $66K to $67K annually.

Of course, you can make more from a Papa John’s franchise if you put in more effort and time, as well as delegate more money towards advertisements and marketing.

Riaz Haq said...

"I'm not saying the military's in love with me," Trump said. "The soldiers are, the top people in the Pentagon probably aren't because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy."

https://theweek.com/articles/936207/are-troops-turning-trump

Now, there are reasonable discussions to be had about America's massive defense spending and the country's warmaking. And it is true that many generals find comfortable sinecures in the armaments industry in their retirement years. But Trump, who has spent this election season touting his administration's increase to the military budget, is in no position to make the critique. Instead, what his comments on Monday really indicate is how rattled he is by The Atlantic's report — and how desperate he is to find a scapegoat. But the tension between Trump and military leaders has deep roots.

Trump doesn't understand the culture of the American armed forces. Trump may say publicly that he loves the military, but what he really seems to admire is a show of strength, and even violence. He delighted in then-Defense Secretary James Mattis' "Mad Dog" nickname, promoted the use of torture against prisoners of war, gave pardons to service members accused or convicted of war crimes, and relaxed the rules of engagement for forces in Afghanistan. The president also loves to bask in the glory of a little bit of spit-and-polish pomp: His 2019 "Salute to America" military parade was prompted by a case of Bastille Day envy.

Riaz Haq said...

A reporter (Ahmad Noorani) for English daily The News has issued an apology for authoring a story that suggested that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) investigating money laundering allegations against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had not found the premier guilty of any wrongdoing in its report.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1344847

Titled "Panama JIT ‘doesn’t find PM guilty,’ but his sons", the story published on July 10 before the actual investigation report was made public said that the JIT had "at no place" held the prime minister responsible for any illegal activity.

Quoting "sources close to the JIT", the news story had claimed that the JIT had connected Sharif's sons — Hussain and Hassan Nawaz — to their family's failure to provide evidence concerning the transfer of funds to London.

"Clearly the most critical and newsworthy part of my story that 'Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is not held responsible for any wrongdoing' proved completely wrong," reporter Ahmad Noorani wrote in his apology, which was published on the front page of The News' July 12 edition.

Riaz Haq said...

The Supreme Court (SC), on Wednesday, issued another contempt notice to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Jang Group and others for falsely attributing in their July 6, 2017 story the apex court as having directed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to look after the affairs of Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

https://direct88786.tribune.com.pk/index.php/story/1616903/sc-issues-contempt-notice-jang-group-false-attribution

The three judge bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, also asked Geo News CEO Mir Shakeelur Rehman and others to appear in person on February 7. During the hearing, the court asked the reporter, Ahmad Noorani, in question to show evidence to establish his story but he failed to do so.

SC drops contempt proceedings against PCO judges

Earlier, the bench gave Noorani the opportunity to tender an unconditional apology for making the telephone call to a judge but he refused.

In July last year, the top court had issued contempt notices to the Jang Group on publishing a ‘controversial’ story relating to the role of the ISI in the Panama Papers case.

A three-judge bench issued contempt notices to owners Mir Shakeelur Rehman, Mir Javedur Rehman, and reporter Noorani over ‘false reporting’ related to the case.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani reporter Ahmad Noorani has a poor track record. He’s had to apologize at least twice before for stories that embarrassed his employer at Jang Media Group. Right now he’s on a “fellowship” in US which is strongly opposed to CPEC!

Riaz Haq said...

U.S. Public Diplomacy: Background and
Current Issues
Kennon H. Nakamura
Analyst in Foreign Affairs
Matthew C. Weed
Analyst in Foreign Policy Legislation

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R40989.pdf

The United States has long sought to influence the peoples of foreign countries through public
diplomacy (PD) efforts. Public diplomacy provides a foreign policy complement to traditional
government-to-government diplomacy which is dominated by official interaction carried out
between professional diplomats. Unlike public affairs which focus communications activities
intended primarily to inform and influence domestic media and the American people, U.S. public
diplomacy includes efforts to interact directly with the citizens, community and civil leaders,
journalists, and other opinion leaders of another country. PD seeks to influence that society’s
attitudes and actions in supporting U.S. policies and national interests. Public diplomacy is
viewed as often having a long-term perspective that requires working through the exchange of
people and ideas to build lasting relationships and understanding the United States and its culture,
values, and policies. The tools of public diplomacy include people-to-people contact; expert
speaker programs; art and cultural performances; books and literature; radio and television
broadcasting and movies; and, more recently, the Internet. In contrast, traditional diplomacy
involves the strong representation of U.S. policies to foreign governments, analysis and reporting
of a foreign government’s activities, attitudes, and trends that affect U.S. interests. There is a
growing concern among many in the executive branch, the Congress, the media, and other foreign
policy observers, however, that the United States has lost its public diplomacy capacity to
successfully respond to today’s international challenges in supporting the accomplishment of U.S.
national interests.

-------------

A number of congressionally mandated NGOs, many founded during the Cold War, continue to
receive appropriated funds to perform work in support of U.S. foreign policy objectives. These
NGOs seek to develop long-term relationships and to improve foreign populations’ understanding
of and attitudes toward the United States. Among these organizations are the National
Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Asia Foundation, the East West Center at the University
of Hawaii, and the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship Program.

--------------


The BBG had responsibility for supervising, directing, and overseeing the operations of the
International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB). The IBB included the worldwide broadcasting services
of the Voice of America (VOA) and television’s Worldnet, Cuba Broadcasting, an Engineering
and Technical Operations Office, and various support services. The BBG also had funding and
oversight authority over surrogate radio grantees: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
and Radio Free Asia (RFA). Among BBG’s responsibilities was to review and evaluate the
operations of the radios, and assess their quality, effectiveness, and professional integrity. It also
was responsible for determining the addition or deletion of the language services under the IBB.16
In 1999, the U.S. government and surrogate services broadcast hours included

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpt from Peck, James. Ideal Illusions (American Empire Project) (p. 250). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition. 2010

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Ideal_Illusions/D2g6JdaK4woC?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=muslim%20world

Zeroing in on their likely constituents, Washington identified the “so-called secularists of the Muslim world: Business people, scientists, non-religious educators, politicians, public administrators, musicians, artists, poets, writers, journalists, actors, and their audiences and admirers”98 as the most “moveable” targets. Among these the “priority targets” were liberal secular Muslim academics and intellectuals, who tended to gravitate to universities and research centers, as well as young moderate religious scholars uncomfortable in the mosque. Women’s groups engaged in gender equality campaigns were another natural constituency. Finally, moderate journalists and writers needed help with broadcasting their work back into their own countries and, via the web, throughout the Islamic world. All these moderates had “political values congruent to the universal values underlying all modern liberal societies,”99 but again empowering them as a class might “require an external catalyst.”100 As elsewhere, they needed money, organizing, ideas—and a pan-Islamic context to counter the radicals’ advantage in organization, religious funding, and the centrality of the mosque in the local community.”101 They also needed “conceptual systems to guide and navigate” them toward American ways of thinking102—a far cry from the free flow of ideas Washington supposedly defended. Attention, not information, was key. In the words of a Defense Department task force, “What’s around information is critical. Reputations count. Brands are important. Fifty years ago political struggles were about the ability to control and transmit scarce information. Today, political struggles are about the creation and destruction of credibility.”103 Once again, local leaders could be quietly supported, invited to conferences, praised in the media, given awards and academic appointments, their reputations nourished. If they were abused, they could be spotlighted as human rights fighters; their plight movingly told, their families taken care of. In all these domains Washington appreciated the contributions of human rights—its workers, its honors, its support for NGOs fit with its own agenda well enough.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Army set to gain sweeping Belt and Road authority
Bill grants military-linked body carte blanche over $50bn CPEC projects

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Belt-and-Road/Pakistan-Army-set-to-gain-sweeping-Belt-and-Road-authority

CPEC projects were stalled for months after Khan took power in 2018, mainly due to graft allegations regarding the previous government's handling of the projects. There were also allegations that the deals unfairly benefited Beijing. Khan's government struggled to cope with twin deficits and unsustainable external debt. Before his election, the former cricketer had been a vocal critic of the corridor, citing a lack of transparency.

But with Bajwa at the helm and Khan now making CPEC a cornerstone of his development plans for Pakistan, CPEC power generation and transportation projects have taken off.

Since its inception, the CPEC Authority has drawn flak from opposition parties, mainly the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the Pakistan People's Party, which advocate for the strengthening of existing civilian institutions involved in the CPEC.

The parties aligned against the bill have also mounted brazen opposition to the army's role in politics. They have organized rallies across the country under an alliance called the Pakistan Democratic Movement, alleging that the ruling PTI has framed them under fake corruption cases with the backing of the army.

----------

Pakistan is set to pass legislation that would place a supranational body that oversees the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's flagship Belt and Road Initiative, under control of a Pakistan Army that would also gain sweeping powers.

A parliamentary committee earlier this month passed the CPEC Authority Bill 2020 despite strong opposition from some lawmakers. According to Junaid Akbar, chairman of the parliamentary committee, the bill will be presented to parliament for a final vote in the second week of December.

Pakistan's government under Prime Minister Imran Khan and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, considered to be aligned with the interests of the army, had been working for months to get the draft bill through the committee. The proposed law seeks to reinstate the controversial CPEC Authority -- which has been defunct since the expiry of a presidential order in May.

If enacted, the legislation will shift control of CPEC projects from the planning and development ministry run by a civilian bureaucracy to the CPEC Authority headed by retired army Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa. In addition, Bajwa would report directly to the prime minister instead of the ministry and replace the planning minister as co-chair of a Pakistan-China joint committee.

Despite the lapse of the presidential order, Bajwa has continued to preside over the CPEC Authority as chairman, a situation that has led opposition legislators to question the legality of his position. In a briefing to the committee, the planning ministry denied having a CPEC Authority chairman; it also denied that it gives Bajwa any salary or perks.

Outside observers say the machinations reveal a military that is asserting itself as the elected government endeavors to find its footing.

"The civilian leadership [under Khan and PTI], which had never held national power until winning the 2018 election, has struggled with public policy on multiple levels," Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank, told Nikkei Asia. "This move can be seen in part as a military power play to assert more influence over a key project that it believes it is better qualified to oversee.