Judicial panel for recovery of billions of written-off loans

ISLAMABAD— A judicial commission assigned to track down loans written off since 1971 has recommended measures to recover the lost sums of money in 222 out of 740 cases involving influential politicians and business houses.

By Afzal Khan

Published: Wed 27 Feb 2013, 8:49 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:34 PM

A report by Justice (retd) Jamshed Ali Shah Commission has expressed serious reservations over major companies and politicians getting loans written off.

The process of issuing and writing off loans is erroneous and against the principles of justice, according to the report. The Justice (retd) Jamshed Ali Commission Report on Written off Loans has recommended proceedings against M/s Naqi Beverages — a company owned by the family of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani — for the recovery of Rs45 million loan.

Gilani is one of hundreds of politicians whose cases have been recommended for further proceedings by the three-member commission set up by the Supreme Court to decide the fate of billions of rupees loans obtained during the last four decades. The other two members of the panel are former Economic Affairs Division secretary Akram Malik and Ibraaz Saeed Raazi.

The commission’s findings suggest it would have been difficult for Gilani to contest the upcoming elections, even if spared by the apex court. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has vowed to disqualify loan and tax defaulters from the next elections. Since Gilani has already been punished in a contempt of court case, he cannot run for public office for the next five years.

Though the commission has recommended proceedings in hundreds of cases, the Supreme Court has not yet passed its judgment in this regard. It has fixed the case of loan defaulters from March 19 onwards — a time when the caretaker set-up should be in place after the completion of the five-year constitutional term of the government.

M/s Naqi Beverages obtained Rs22 million in loans from Habib Bank Limited in March 1994. The company returned only Rs8 million of the principal amount.

No response was received from Gilani’s spokesman Akram Shahidi till the filing of this report.

PPP’s chief whip in the upper house of parliament, Senator Islamuddin Sheikh, may also face serious consequences after the release of this report. The commission has recommended the Supreme Court to recover Rs235 million in written off loans against almost half a dozen companies owned by Sheikh.

Riaz Laljee, a friend of President Asif Ali Zardari and the main accused in the Steel Mills corruption case, also got Rs261.8 million in loans written off. The commission has recommended proceedings against his firm as well.

Former Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jahangir’s husband’s company Hala Spinning Mills Limited is also accused of defaulting Rs50.5 million in written off loans.


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