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Multan’s Metro Bus project has been the subject of much speculation after it was revealed that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SECP) handed over files of a Chinese corruption case associated with the Metro Bus Multan to the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA). The case came to light seven months prior when Chinese Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) sought information from SECP regarding the involvement of a Chinese company, Jiangsu Yabaite Technology, in the project.

Jiangsu Yabaite is currently facing scrutiny in China due to irregular foreign deposits in its accounts.

The said Capital Engineering and Construction Company is not registered with the SECP and, upon further inquiry, it was discovered that the company office address was fictional and there appeared to be no tangible proof of its existence.

When queried as to the source of the funds, the company informed Chinese authorities that it had received these funds as payment for work done on Metro Bus Multan project.

Yabaite Technology told CSRC that it had worked as a subcontractor of a certain Capital Engineering and Construction Company which was itself a subcontractor for a section of the project.

Read More: Nawaz Sharif’s role in HBL controversy; damning report by Arshad Shareef.

The said Capital Engineering and Construction Company is not registered with the SECP and, upon further inquiry, it was discovered that the company office address was fictional and there appeared to be no tangible proof of its existence.

All concerned authorities have denied the existence of any record of the company in question.

The SECP has been very secretive regarding this case. It has been reported that only two officials were authorized to handle the files of this case. Disgraced SECP ex-Chairman Zafar Hijazi is said to have suppressed this case for seven months but the files have now been handed over to investigative authorities.

The case became even more controversial after a segment of the news media questioned Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif’s involvement in the scandal. Secretary Supreme Court Bar Association Aftab Bajwa alleged that Shahbaz had received kickbacks from the project to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

The media speculation provoked a fiery reaction from the flamboyant Punjab CM who lashed out against ARY News channel and also named three popular TV personalities on the network during a press conference where he dismissed allegations against him and called the TV pundits liars.

He also called ARY news network as being associated with “land-grabbing mafia” and blamed the network for having an agenda against him and his family.

Yabaite Technology had produced two letters before the CSRC as proof of its involvement in Metro Bus Multan project. These letters were written and signed by the Punjab Chief Minister, Senator Kalsoom Parveen and Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed and were attested by the Pakistan Foreign Office. But the CM and the Senators have dismissed these letters as a forgery.

The SECP is currently coordinating with a delegation from CSRC which is inquiring into the matter.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance has also taken notice of the case and summoned the SECP authorities on Sept 7.

Members of the opposition have started drawing parallels between the Panamagate case and these fresh Metro Bus Multan allegations because both cases came to light as a result of foreign scrutiny.

Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, the committee’s chairman, said the SECP had been asked to give a briefing on the project and the inquiry conducted by the Chinese securities regulator.

Read More: Nawaz Sharif’s role in HBL controversy; damning report by Arshad Shareef.

“China’s regulator has investigated the corruption case in Multan metro bus project and sent a letter to the SECP. Parliament should be briefed on it to make an independent investigation into the matter,” he said.

He added that for the first time a foreign country had asked the SECP to investigate an allegation and it would have to respond to the CSRC.

Members of the opposition have started drawing parallels between the Panamagate case and these fresh Metro Bus Multan allegations because both cases came to light as a result of foreign scrutiny.

PTI chief Imran Khan tweeted on Wednesday “Like the Panama Papers exposed NS & family’s corruption, the Chinese have exposed Multan Metro fraud directly implicating Shahbaz Sharif”

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