corruption of millions in wateen telecom

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Adeel Ahmed Bajwa and Tauqeer Ahmad, the members of the board of directors of Wateen Telecom in Pakistan, have been removed from their respective positions over mega corruption and attempting to sell out the company to a fake US firm.

Sources in the telecom sector disclosed to Flare that the decision was taken at a meeting of the board of directors of Abu Dhabi Group, the parent company of Wateen Telecom, in UAE recently. The meeting was chaired by its chief Shaikh Nahyan.

Passports of the two have been seized, which means they cannot leave UAE until their case is settled.

Mr Bajwa has been accused of committing corruption of billions of rupees and buying properties in big cities of Pakistan during his eight-year-long stint at the company. It is said that a senior member of the telecom firm is still helping out Bajwa and trying to save him from any legal proceedings.

The sources said the way the members of the board of directors of the company attempted to sell out the firm through an under-hand deal was shameful. They said that since the news emerged, investigative agencies, including the National Accountability Bureau, have started probing the matter.

The sources said a case regarding payment of millions of rupees owed by Wateen Telecom to Universal Service Fund and other Pakistani entities, is being probed by NAB, and the bureau had already issued notices to Wateen.

After the news of financial irregularities surfaced, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has also started investigations into the matter.

Tahir Hameed, a spokesperson of Wateen Telecom, told Flare on contact that NAB was probing a case of a subsidiary of Wateen. He said that he did not know whether NAB was also probing any irregularities allegedly committed by Wateen.

However, on contact sources in NAB told Flare that a case regarding corruption of billions of rupees by Wateen and other companies had been with an accountability court in Islamabad since 2018.

The sources said Mr Bajwa had ordered the management of the firm to start necessary procedures to hand over the company to the US entity, and the whole process was overseen by company’s head in Pakistan, Rizwan Tawana. With his approval the documents were allegedly exchanged with the so-called US company and even the employees of the companies travelled to each other’s country to give final touches to this dubious sell-out deal.

When all the formalities were done, Mr Bajwa along with his team travelled to UAE to present the sell-out proposal to its head Shaikh Nahyan. However, things turned nasty for Mr Bajwa when Shaikh Nahyan asked about the whereabouts of the US firm. It turned out that the US company was fake and that Mr Bajwa was either its partner or the shareholder. It was disclosed at the UAE meeting that many other people in Wateen Telecom were involved in the matter, which really angered the Abu Dhabi group head, who immediately ordered removal of Adeel Ahmed Bajwa and Tauqeer Ahmed from their respective posts and ordered confiscation of their travel documents.

Shaikh Nahyan is reported to have ordered forensic audit of Wateen Telecom by a private firm, after which it would be decided what legal course should be taken against the fired officials.

It also turned out in the meeting of the board of directors in Dubai that for running its international traffic Wateen Telecom had got registered a company in Malaysia and all its financial matters were being done in that country to avoid taxes in Pakistan. Adeel Bajwa is also accused of pocketing millions of dollars from such transactions.

The BoD meeting also ordered forensic audit of the Malaysian firm.

Mr Bajwa is also accused of stuffing Wateen Telecom with his cronies to further his interests. This dirty game is allegedly aided by a senior official of the company, who helped Bajwa buy properties for his relatives and himself all across Pakistan during the last eight years.

The sources said Shaikh Nahyan was also kept in the dark about millions of rupees Wateen Telecom owed to the Pakistani government and about the NAB probes.

The company also owes millions of rupees to USF and LDI, which is also under the NAB probe, and if the company officials do not cooperate in the investigations, the anti-graft body may have to arrest the officials.

It is said that in only one case, Wateen Telecom has to pay Rs1 million penalty and 7.5 per cent annual turnover. But the firm has defaulted as no one from it is appearing in NAB to pursue the case.