Saturday, July 2, 2016

#Musharraf, #Kayani too have Swiss Bank accounts, says London-based investigative journalist

London-based investigative journalist and consultant James D. Crickton has made a startling revelation based on in-depth research that both former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf and that country's former army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani have bank accounts in Switzerland with several million US dollars stashed in them.

Writing in his blog on World Press Platform, Crickton said, "I tumbled upon this information accidentally as I was trying to find out how and why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who hails from a rich business family, has allowed himself to be embroiled in the Panama Leaks controversy unearthed by intrepid international investigative journalists. The charge is that his family members had deposited money in shell companies located in Panama, and used that money to buy properties. It is also said that his daughter Maryam Nawaz owns properties in Peru and Singapore. Sharif critics have not proved thus far that these assets have been acquired with ill-gotten wealth."

During the course of his investigations into Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's illegal accounts, Crickton claimed that former president Musharraf and former army chief Kayani are holding separate accounts in the Swiss bank, Julius Baer.

Musharraf's account, according to Crickton, is maintained by the Star Trust Company. It had several million dollars around the time he was briefly arrested in October 2013 for the operation he had ordered as the President in 2007 on Islamabad's famous Red Mosque that had left one cleric and more than 100 others dead. Presently, the balance in the account is USD two million, it is said. Well, it raises the question: why did he join the ranks of Third World leaders with secret bank accounts in Switzerland? asks Crickton.

When he took over the reins in a bloodless coup in October 1999, Musharraf had promised a clean-up. Throughout his innings, the garrulous general kept on reiterating the promise. But analysts aver that the level of corruption did not diminish throughout his time. The numbered Swiss account lends credence to the assertion.

Former army chief General Kayani, writes Crickton, has been maintaining a deafening silence ever since his retirement, but rumor mills in Islamabad, which churn out conspiracy theories by the dozen, were agog last November- December that he was put under house arrest and was slapped with a gag order.

This phase coincided with incumbent Army Chief General Raheel Sharif's decision to cancel the allotment of prime land that he had managed for himself shortly before he was set to retire. This piece of land originally belonged to Army Selection and Recruitment Center. Located close to the Fortress Stadium, it is the most expensive defence area in Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan.

From January this year, General Kayani has been in the headlines because of his brother Kamaran Kayani, who is also a retired army officer. The army has ordered a probe into allegations that Kamaran became "a millionaire and then a billionaire during the extended tenure of his brother" at the helm of Army General Headquarters (GHQ).

Mr.Crickton refers to the Weekly Corporate Ambassador which said: "during Gen. Kayani's tenure as COAS, everyone in the army, politics and media knew about the fast-growing business of Kamaran Kayani as he was getting big contracts from the army, the government and the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) City. Kamaran is the main accused in the Pakistani Rupees 17 billion DHA scam.

A few days ago, Pakistan's anti-corruption watch dog, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cleared Gen. Kayani of allegations of corruption since there was no evidence in writing to show that he had asked for favours for his brother's enterprise. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has since issued orders for the arrest of Kamaran but he is abroad and thus remains beyond the long arm of Pakistani law enforcement agencies for the past couple of months.

Kayani's Swiss bank account is maintained by Kamaran's UAE- based firm, J&B Construction Company. "The balance in the account is US dollars several million dollars," Mr. Crickton claimed, quoting highly-placed sources.

These sources have identified the account numbers of the two generals. While Musharraf's is given as 3861337, Kayani's is said to be 583106 according to the London-based investigative journalist and consultant.

Celebrated Pakistani geo-strategist and commentator, Ayesha Siddiqa, has extensively written about the Pakistan military's economic activities.

In her book "Military Inc" (published in 2007) she coined the term "Milbus" to refer to "military capital that is used for the personal benefit of the military fraternity, especially the officer cadre, but is neither recorded nor part of the defense budget." She has put the cost of this Milbus to about 20 billion dollars.

But neither Ayesha Siddiqa nor any other commentator has even remotely hinted at generals having Swiss bank accounts. For them, this disclosure may come as a rude shock, writes Mr. Crickton in his blog.



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