More revelations in Mehran Bank scam

06 Oct, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The money doled out to politicians in the Asghar Khan case was purely public money and not donations collected from some rich businessmen of Karachi. This money was actually released by Habib Bank Limited, one of the most prestigious banks of Pakistan, which is still trying to recover its money from Younis Habib, former Mehran Bank president.

Recently, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) very generously gave three years time to Younis Habib to pay back the money to Habib Bank Limited which was used for bribing politicians in 1990.

Younis Habib was associated with HBL in 1990. HBL was under government control at that time and President Ghulam Ishaq Khan conveyed a message to the high-ups of HBL through the Finance Ministry that Younis Habib was doing something very special and they must release the money to him as soon as possible. HBL released Rs1.48 billion in the name of a company owned by Younis Habib, but he was not aware that one day he will become a notorious man for playing the game of the ISI in the name of the ‘national interest’.

NAB sources confirmed that three years time was given to Younis Habib in a recent meeting presided over by Admiral (retd) Fasih Bukhari because HBL raised no objections.

The former chief operating officer of Mehran Bank, Younas Habib, said: “I am paying a very heavy price for serving the ‘national interest’ on the instructions of president of Pakistan and chief of the army staff”.

In an exclusive interview with this report, Younis Habib said: “I gave Rs40 crore to ISI for bribing politicians, some amount was given to Army Welfare Trust and rest was invested in different properties”. He said he did not know how much money was distributed among journalists and who distributed it because it was mainly done by ISI.

He was unaware who sent money to Bangladeshi politician Begum Khalida Zia. He named only few politicians who received money from him directly. Among them are Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif who have contradicted the claims made by Younis Habib.

He said: “After 22 years I have to pay back Rs3 billion to HBL for the Rs1.48 billion I borrowed in 1990 for playing a political game in the name of ‘national interest’”. He claimed he returned Rs1.85 billion and he still had to pay back rest of Rs1.15 billion to the HBL. The cost of the ‘national interest’ in terms of mark-up is around Rs1.52 billion.

Younis Habib said he could create a lot of complications by involving many people who were part of the dirty game in 1990 and he could demand some relaxations from NAB, but he was not doing that. He said he had given a commitment to the NAB recently that he would return the remaining Rs1.15 billion in the next three years. He claimed he had returned the principal amount to HBL and now he would return the mark-up by selling some property in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Block 9 of Karachi. He admitted this property was controversial and a legal case was pending in the Supreme Court. He said: “I am confident that I will win the case and I would be able to pay back each and every rupee of HBL”.

When asked why former ISI DG Asad Durrani claimed that the money distributed among politicians was collected by some Karachi businessmen, Younis Habib just smiled and responded: “If it was charity money then why am I still in deep trouble?”

He said: “Do not force me to open my mouth, I do not want to create problems for my family”. He said many politicians, bureaucrats and army generals betrayed him for their gains, but the worst thing was betrayal in the name of ‘national interest’.

He said he did everything with good intentions in 1990, but it was unexpected for him that the establishment could be very angry with him just because he refused to become part to another dirty game. He claimed his differences with the establishment started immediately after the dismissal of Benazir Bhutto’s government in May 1990.

“I was summoned by the in charge of accountability cell, Roedad Khan, in the Q block of Pakistan Secretariat on September 29, 1990. When I reached the office of Roedad Khan the then Pakistan Banking Council chairman Iqbal Paarekh and a top HBL official Tahir Ali Tayabbi were also present there. Roedad Khan tried to use me against Asif Ali Zardari but I refused to become complainant of a fake case,” he added.

“When I reached back Karachi on October 1st, FIA arrested me in a fake case and my love affair with establishment in the name of national interest was over. No general rescued me I got relief from the courts.”

It is interesting to note that Younis Habib came into contact with President Ghulam Ishaq Khan through former army chief Aslam Beg, but there is no credible evidence that Aslam Beg played any significant role in the creation of Mehran Bank. He made some phone calls for Younis Habib, but did nothing in black and white.

Aslam Beg was retired on August 16, 1991 and Mehran Bank was established on August 26, 1991 primarily with the help of Chief Minister Jam Sadiq Ali who was very close to President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. The seven sponsored directors of Mehran Bank were: Ali Muhammad Dawood, Latif Ebrahim Jamal, Yaqoob Taabani, Naeem A Sattar, Abdul Shakoor Khatri, Abdul Majid and Noor Mohammad Hashim.

According to the bank record all of these directors were nominated by Jam Sadiq Ali. When Jam Sadiq Ali died in 1992 and Younis Habib started facing problems from the State Bank of Pakistan. Six directors Naeem A Sattar, Noor Mohammad Hashim, Ebrahim Jamal, Ali Muhammad Dawood, Yaqoob Tabani and Khatri resigned. They were replaced by Muhammad Ali Khan, Jan Muhammad, Abdullah, and Zahid Younas.

Younis Habib established and ran Mehran Bank with the help of his political friends. When Jam Sadiq Ali died and President Ghulam Ishaq Khan became a lame duck, Younas Habib tried to cultivate friends in the PPP. He financed many PPP leaders in 1993 election, but this time not for ‘national interest’ and not on the instructions of the ISI, but just to safeguard his business interest. He was not able to protect Mehran Bank.

Immediately after coming into power Benazir Bhutto started inquiry against Younis Habib. Late Interior Minister Major General (R) Naseerullah Khan Babar supervised the inquiry personally. He managed a confessional statement from Asad Durrani who was sent as an ambassador to Germany. Babar wanted to try General Aslam Beg in a court of law, but President Farooq Leghari disagreed.

Younis Habib was arrested and sent to jail in 1995. Naseerullah Babar leaked the confessional statement of Asad Durrani to the media and same year Asghar Khan filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the political role of the ISI in 1990. It will be difficult for Younis Habib to legally prove that he personally handed over money to many politicians, but this case could be a beginning for the end of political role of the ISI in politics.

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