By Arshad Sharif
Islamabad: For the last nine months, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Special Assistant and State Minister Zulfiqar Bukhari has failed to give money trail for offshore companies, London properties and businesses to National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
And yet, the NAB, which has arrested the leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif in what the PMLN says is a roving inquiry, dare not touch Zulfi Bukhari whom the Prime Minister openly declares to be his friend.
FAMILY LINKS TO HUMAN SMUGGLING
The official records indicate that initial fortunes of Zulfi Bukhari’s family were made by his father and uncle through criminal activities of heinous nature involving human smuggling of Pakistanis.
The human smuggling case came to light when a few Pakistanis sent abroad by Al-Murtaza Associates -a company run by Wajid Bukhari, were killed under mysterious circumstances in Libya.
Zulfi Bukhari’s father, Syed Wajid Hussain Bukhari and his real uncle Syed Manzoor Hussain Bukhari, were convicted to 14 years imprisonment and orders for confiscation of their properties were given in a human smuggling case FIR No161/82 dated 3/11/1982 under sections 420, 468,471, 277 MLO, FIA Passport Cell Rawalpindi.
The case file of Bukhari family reveals shocking facts which resulted in their conviction and orders for confiscation of moveable and immovable property by Military Court No 32 of Rawalpindi on 8thAugust 1984.
Documents tracked by Truth Tracker reveal that when the human smuggling case was being investigated and subsequently tried against Wajid Bukhari, the family transferred the money to UK and bought properties in the years from 1981-1984.
USE OF PROCEEDS OF CRIME OF HUMAN SMUGGLING?
UK Land registry documents indicate that at least two companies, Masouma Investment Company Limited and Sakina Investment Limited, formed by Wajid Bukhari in the name of his daughters Masouma Bukhari and Sakina Bukhari, bought expensive real estate in London in the years 1981, 1983 and 1984 – years coinciding to trial and conviction in human smuggling case.
The names of Zulfi Bukhari and his sisters Masouma Bukhari and Sakina Bukhari were also revealed in Panama Papers in 2016 and linked to offshore companies including K-Factor Limited, Bradbury Resources Limited, Baytek Limited.
NAB’S DILLY DALLYING
NAB’s first notice No: NAB2018011811018/Inq/IW-2 to Zulfiqar Bukhari on February 20, 2018 stated that the “competent authority has taken cognizance of an offence committed by you under the provisions of NAO 1999” and that “the inquiry regarding ownership/setting up of offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands named in the Panama Papers has revealed that you are in possession of information/evidence whatsoever, which related to the commission of the said offence.”
Subsequently, Zulfi’s father, Wajid Bukhari was also called by NAB Rawalpindi and asked about the money trail for properties and businesses in UK and Pakistan. Both father and son have failed to provide the money trail so far.
Sources within NAB Rawalpindi say that despite failure of Zulfi Bukhari and his father to provide money trail and passage of the deadline for filing a reference within ten months set by Chairman NAB, the curious case of Prime Minister’s friend has not moved beyond inquiry stage.
NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal had revised Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the Accountability body requiring officers to complete inquiry and investigations within nine months and file a reference before Accountability Court within ten months.
“Zulfi’s father, Wajid Bukhari, met a few powerful people in PM’s Secretariat, NAB and in Rawalpindi to personally request that Zulfi Bukhari should not be arrested,” said a source in NAB’s Rawalpindi office.
NAB’s Rawalpindi office is headed by Nawaz Sharif family JIT fame Director General Irfan Mangi whose investigation officers have shown extra leniency in the case of the PM’s friend.
In the case of the Prime Ministers Special Assistant/State Minister and friend Zulfi Bukhari, NAB Rawalpindi has apparently not only put the file on the back burner but also provided a rare relief to the accused after formation of the PTI government.
NAB in a rare gesture of leniency, as revealed by its letter dated 5thOctober 2018, allowed one-time exemption to Mr Zulfiqar Bukhari to leave Pakistan. This despite the fact that an inquiry is still pending against him and the documents related to the companies and properties could be changed.
CHANGING DOCUMENTS DURING INQUIRY
Truth Tracker has tracked documentary evidence which indicates that records of companies were being changed after NAB started the inquiry and Mr Zulfiqar Bukhari resigned from at least two UK companies and the offshore companies.
Some investigators believe the act of resigning from directorship of companies whose money trail was sought by NAB amounts to tampering evidence of inquiry.
Mr Zulfiqar Bukhari resigned as director of two UK based companies, Martin Kemp Design Limited and HPM Developments Limited on 21stSeptember, 2018, almost six months after NAB initiated the inquiry against him.
Bayla Trading, another offshore company associated with Zulfiqar Bukhari’s company K-Factor has also been closed. Records of these companies were with Mossack Fonsecca, the firm whose data leak led to revelation of Panama Papers.
NAB had sought money trail and raised questions about some suspicious transactions amounting to millions of pounds in the two UK companies of Mr Zulfiqar Bukhari.
Interestingly enough, the company profile of Mr Zulfiqar Bukhari’s UK companies reveals the ditto replica of Flagship reference filed by NAB against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his son Hasan Nawaz.
MISSING MONEY TRAIL
Auditors who have analyzed company data of UK based companies of Mr Zulfiqar Bukhari told Truth Tracker that surprisingly all, except one, UK based companies were making losses. But money was infused in UK companies from offshore jurisdictions- a case typical to Flagship Reference where companies of Hasan Nawaz in UK were making losses yet millions of pounds were being funneled through different jurisdictions.
When NAB started investigations against Zulfiqar Bukhari he was listed as director/owner of at least nine companies in the United Kingdom.
The UK companies of Mr Zulfiqar Bukhari included Martin Kemp Design Limited; HPM Development (London) Limited; One London Marketing Limited; Overbridge Properties Limited; Saybuck Limited; TRIBUCK, Underbridge Properties Limited; Zab Developments Limited and Zab properties Limited.
One of the companies from which Mr Zulfiqar Bukhari resigned in September 2018, Martin Kemp Design Limited, showed huge infusion of millions of pounds in 2012. The money trail of the millions of pounds shareholding of Mr Bukhari in Martin Kemp Design Limited raised questions which could not be justified in the NAB inquiry by the accused.
HPM Developments, another company from which Mr Zulfiqar Bukhari resigned in September 2018, showed infusion of millions of Pounds whose sources of funds for injection were yet to be revealed in a transparent manner.
The one-time exemption granted by NAB to Zulfiqar Bukhari to leave Pakistan vide its letter dated October 5 raises questions if someone within NAB is facilitating the tampering of evidence of inquiry initiated by NAB?
It also raises question as to who has tied the hands of NAB officials to proceed in a case where court records and conviction indicates the nexus of offshore accounts and businesses to proceeds of crime of human smuggling?
Or being a friend of the Prime Minister makes one more powerful than the leader of the opposition in parliament?
Friends with benefits as the saying goes!