CCP raids Lahore office of Jahangir Tareen’s sugar mills, seizes important record

ISLAMABAD: The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) on Friday raided the head office of JDW Sugar Mills, owned by Jahangir Tareen, in Lahore to impound proofs of the group’s suspected involvement in anti-competitive activities in violation of the Competition Act, 2010.

As part of an ongoing inquiry into the possible anti-competitive activities in the sugar industry, the CCP on 14 September 2020 had carried out a search a search and inspection of the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association’s Lahore and Islamabad offices, wherein it impounded the association’s record, including the correspondence done through letters, emails, and whatsapp messages, between various members and office bearers of PSMA.

The impounded data included exchange of emails between a senior official of JDW and PSMA Punjab zone office bearers regarding sensitive commercial information such as mill-wise, district-wise sugar stock position, and even the quantity of cane crushed, sugar produced, recovery percentage, carry forward old/raw sugar, total sugar, quantity sold, balance and sold percentage.

A senior official of CCP informed this scribe that the decision to search the head office of JDW Group was approved by the senior management of the commission in view of the political nature of the case.

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“During an analysis of the whatsapp messages exchanged in a group of PSMA officials, the same senior official of JDW was found to be in constant communication with regard to price and stock-related data of sugar mills.”

The data further indicated the senior official’s continued involvement in sharing/receiving sensitive information regarding sugar industry since 2012, when he was nominated as the focal person for coordinating the sugar stock position by PSMA.

The CCP suspects that the compilation, consolidation, and distribution of sensitive commercial information using the PSMA’s platform could lead to possible proof/corroboration of collusive activity/cartelization that is violation of the Competition Act.

The search team has impounded the relevant print and electronic material from the above-mentioned sugar mill premises for further scrutiny.

RS200BN IN THREE YEARS

It is pertinent to mention here that Jahangir Tareen on Thursday had submitted a reply to the FIA in which he said that his sugar mills made Rs200 billion in three years. Of this sum, Rs81 billion was paid to sugar farmers.

The FIA is investigating the PTI leader in an inquiry into Pakistan’s sugar crisis.

JDW Sugar Mills comprise of three units, two of which are located in Rahim Yar Khan in south Punjab and one is located in Ghotki, Sindh. It accounts for 17pc of the country’s total sugar product.

A sugar inquiry report, issued on May 2, had revealed the way sugar barons had cheated farmers, benefited from subsidies and created conditions so that the price of sugar could go up.

Tareen was among the people accused of benefitting the most from the crisis. The report said that six major groups control 51pc of the total sugar production. Tareen’s JDW Mills have the biggest share that is 20pc of the total production.

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Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]
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