ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman and former President Asif Ali Zardari is in hot waters following the Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) report in the fake accounts case, a new claim has emerged that the sitting Finance Minister Asad Umar had allegedly paid Rs.4 million as ‘extortion money’ to ex-President Asif Ali Zardari for a meeting back in 2011.
Sources told to The News Tribe that the event took place a few years ago when Mr. Umar was Chief Executive Officer of Engro Corporation and Asif Ali Zardari was President of Pakistan.
The Supreme Court-constituted JIT has recently presented its report in the Supreme Court, which highlights the organized and institutionalized corruption of Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Multiple sources, who worked at Engro in the past and now reside in Australia, told The News Tribe that back in 2011, then Engro’s CEO Asad Umar sought a meeting with the then President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, to sort out some issues related to repetitive gas shortage faced at Engro Fertilizer’s plant.
A gas shutdown at Engro Fertilizers plant is considered fatal for Engro’s business, as it takes few days after the gas is resumed to bring the plant up to speed and running at full capacity. Asad Umar wanted to meet the President to get some help in sorting out this business critical problem.
The sources claimed that the request for the meeting was assented, following which Asad Umar met the President at Bilawal House in Karachi, not too far from Engro’s head office where the CEO had his office on the 8th floor.
The meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and Asad Umar lasted for 40 minutes. According to the ex-employees of Engro, when the meeting was over, Agha Siraj Durrani, another member of Pakistan People’s Party who was present at the location, asked Asad Umar for 40 lac rupees, when the President left.
Asad Umar was told that the rate of meeting with Zardari was Rs. One Hundred Thousand (1 lac) per minute and since his meeting lasted 40-minutes, the meeting would cost him Rs. 4 million.
Asad Umar, shocked and surprised by the situation, tried to contact people of influence but was restricted by Bilawal House staff. Eventually, CEO Asad Umar had to direct transfer of Rs. 4 million as cash to Bilawal House from Engro’s account, only then he was allowed to leave the premises of Bilawal House.
However, the sources that claimed this incident are all Engro’s former employees based outside Pakistan. Asad Umar did not deny or accept that the incident took place.