EXCLUSIVE: Muhammad Khan Bhatti Authenticates Corruption Charges Against Him

EXCLUSIVE: Muhammad Khan Bhatti Authenticates Corruption Charges Against Him
LAHORE: Former principal secretary (PS) to chief minister Muhammad Khan Bhatti has authenticated the corruption charges against him and has confessed that in construction and renovation of Punjab Assembly, all contracts were given to his front men or Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) loyalists at the behest of former chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and his son former federal minister Moonis Elahi, The Friday Times (TFT) has learnt.

Bhatti, under Section 164, confessed committing massive corruption and wrong doings during the course of his service, and especially as principal secretary to CM.

He was arrested from Quetta on the Pak-Iran Border, while trying to flee to Iran and was brought to Rahim Yar Khan, where he was remanded in the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) custody by Rahim Yar Khan Senior Civil Judge Tasneem Ijaz for three days on Monday.

Bhatti’s last six months as principal secretary

Sources privy to this development told TFT that Bhatti had established an intricate mesh of front men and cut outs for every area and domain.

“At least 8-10 XENs and SDOs of C&W were directly working for him in a number of districts,” a senior official said while adding that they paid him billions in the form of kickbacks and bribes.

He further said that Rana Iqbal XEN was arrested by ACE on January 23. He confessed to paying him approximately 8 billion rupees (800 crore) in cash as kickbacks and commissions in different projects.

Bhatti authenticates receiving Rs500 million from XEN Rana Iqbal

“Muhammad Khan Bhatti has authenticated XEN Rana Iqbal’s confessions before the magistrate, that he had received up to Rs 500 million rupees in the form of commissions and bribes at the behest of Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and Moonis Elahi,” a senior official who is at the helm of affairs confirmed to TFT.

Bhatti received Rs 50 million in kickbacks for Daska and Kasur highways

Bhatti has also confessed that highway contractors like Naveed Contractor gave Rs 50 million in kickbacks for Daska Highway and Kasur Highway tenders.

Bhatti’s investment in different businesses

A senior official from ACE told TFT that Bhatti has confessed that he invested Rs 250 million in Alliance Sugar Mill, Rs 100 million in RYK Sugar Mill, Rs 100 million in Khawja Motors and 70 million in Sargodha Mall.

Bhatti’s properties

An official who is part of the investigation team said that, “Bhatti has confessed that he owns a farm house on 4.5 acres land at Raiwind Lahore, 150 acres of agricultural land in Mandi Bahauddin, a cattle farm at Mandi Bahuddin with 200 head count, an 8 marla house at Johar Town, one kanal house at Ghani Glass Society Lahore, two commercial plots in Etihad Town Lahore and one Land Cruiser jeep.”

“These assets clearly show that it is a case of assets beyond means,” a senior official said while adding that as secretary Punjab assembly he recruited 500 persons between 2018 to 2022.

Fake tendering in TEVTA and TDCP

A close aide of Elahi had also confessed that as principal secretary to the Chief Minister, he facilitated multiple corrupt practices like fake tendering in TEVTA, TDCP for bus purchases at 10% commissions.

Rs 100 billion funds for Gujrat District

“Bhatti has confessed that on Elahi’s instructions 3 districts of Gujarat received 100 billion funds in ADP and almost all the schemes were auctioned to the maximum commission bidders at 10-12% through Bhatti or his close aides which include Sohail Asghar Awan, Zaighum Abbas, Nadeem Malhi and others.

Bhatti’s nephew given maximum number of development schemes amounting to Rs 20 billion

Sources told TFT that Sajid Bhatti (ex MPA PP-67 Mandi Bahuddin), who is Bhatti’s nephew got the maximum number of schemes in the ADP 2022-23, amounting to Rs 20 billion.

Bhatti gave fake charters to universities at behest of Elahi and Moonis

Sources maintained that Bhatti had also confessed that he was also involved in taking bribes to approve fake legislation of the charter of the universities by violating procedures along with former provincial ministers Raja Basharat, Raja Yasir Humayun who also earned millions in commissions.

LWMC tender given to contractor against Rs 150 million commission for Elahi

“We gave LWMC contract to a contractor who in return gave Rs 150 million commission to former CM Elahi,” sources quoted Bhatti as saying this while adding that he also facilitated by doing fake tendering against commission to reward contracts to Nadeem Malhi in the minerals department.

NOCs given to housing societies to convert them from green to brown category in Master Plan against billions of rupees

Elahi’s front men have also confessed that the former Chief Minister and his son had made billions of rupees from housing societies in every district of Punjab through him.

“Bhatti had confessed that all the leading land developers who are part of the real estate sector gave commissions for getting NOCs from converting their societies from Green to Brown in the LDA Master plan,” a senior official said.

Other cases against Bhatti

A senior official at ACE told TFT that on January 29 ACE registered a case against Bhatti for taking a huge bribe from Rana Iqbal.

“Bhatti is accused of taking more than Rs 800 million as a bribe from officials of the Punjab Highway Department in 5 months in lieu of postings and as commissions,” he said while adding that Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) anti-money-laundering circle lodged cases against Bhatti and eight others for taking bribes to award high-ranking posts.

A senior official from FIA said that Bhatti’s close relative Nawaz Bhatti gave a statement before FIA in the RYK Sugar Mill case.

“Bhatti is directly involved in the sugar mill case against Moonis Elahi & others.”

Sources further maintained that a small scale employee of Punjab Assembly Qaiser Iqbal Bhatti was involved in massive banking transactions to the family of Moonis including his wife and friends.

“Case is registered against him in ACE Punjab and FIA for multiple crimes,” he said.

Bhatti’s rise

It is pertinent to mention that Bhatti who was a grade-7 clerk in the Agriculture Department when then Punjab Assembly speaker Elahi inducted him into the Assembly Secretariat in grade-11 in 1997.

Sources said that thanks to the patronage of Elahi, who became the Punjab Chief Minister in 2002, Bhatti attained grade-20 in less than a decade, an unprecedented rise for a low ranking government employee, and was appointed Special Secretary in the Chief Minister's Secretariat, a post specially created to accommodate him.

Bhatti was promoted to BS-21 and later into BS-22. He remained Principal Secretary to CM Punjab from July 26, 2022 to January 2023.

A senior official who had worked closely with him for decades told TFT that his educational qualification does not even include a Matriculation certificate.

Bhatti knows Elahi more than his son Moonis

“Bhatti is more of an advisor, aide and loyal friend than a mere subservient or facilitator,” a senior official remarked, maintaining that he knows more about Elahi than his son Moonis knows about father, and he was the lynchpin of Elahi’s entire corrupt regime.

Bhatti is ready to become approver

A senior official said that Bhatti who is currently in ACE remand is ready to become approver against former chief minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President Elahi and former Federal Minister Moonis.

“Bhatti had confessed that he did everything at the behest of Elahi and Moonis,” he concluded.

The writer is a senior correspondent at The Friday Times with a focus on politics, economy and militancy. He also hosts the Hassan Naqvi Show on Naya Daur.