NEW DELHI: A major corruption scandal involving Lt GeneralAsim Saleem Bajwa
(retd) is gathering steam in Pakistan. Bajwa is a retired general who is now serving as the chairman of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and a special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan.
According to a report published on 'Fact Focus', Asim Bajwa’s brothers, wife and two sons "own a business empire which set up 99 companies in four countries, including a pizza franchise with 133 restaurants worth an estimated $39.9 million."
The report said that out of the 99 companies, 66 are main companies, 33 companies are branch companies of some of the main companies while five companies are dead.
“The Bajwa family’s companies spent an estimated $52.2 million to develop their businesses and $14.5 million to purchase properties in the United States, while Asim Bajwa and his department were encouraging Pakistanis to invest within their relatively undeveloped country,” said the report.
"The businesses of the Bajwa family through different companies were named as Bajco Group. Asim Bajwa’s sons joined the Bajco Group companies in 2015 and also started establishing new companies independent of the Bajco Group in Pakistan and in the United States after he became director general of ISPR and commander of the Southern Command," the report said.
In his declaration of assets and liabilities signed in June as an SAPM, Asim Bajwa declared an investment of $18,468 in his wife’s name. However, according to the 'Fact Focus' report, Asim’s wife Farrukh Zeba's estimated current net worth of businesses and properties that are jointly owned by her stands at $52.7 million.
"Zeba was a shareholder in all the foreign businesses from the very beginning. At present, she is associated with or is a shareholder in 85 companies including 82 foreign companies (71 in US, seven in UAE and four in Canada)," the report alleged.
The report claimed that growth of the Bajwa family’s business empire in the United States and in Pakistan directly matches the rise in power of retired general Asim Saleem Bajwa, who is now the chairman of CPEC.
The report also traced the rise of Asim Bajwa's brother who started as a delivery driver for the pizza restaurant franchise but now runs his own food chain with 133 restaurants.
Asim Bajwa rubbished the report, calling it a "malicious propaganda" against him and his family. However, he did not provide any rebuttal to the story.
"A malicious propaganda story published on an unknown site, against me and my family, (just uploaded on social media) is strongly rebutted," he wrote on Twitter
Another story on the same web portal claimed that the Bajwa family purchased 13 commercial and five residential properties in the United States over a period of last ten years.
"The estimated value of commercial and residential properties owned by the Bajwa family in the United States is $14.5385 million. The worth of commercial properties owned by the businesses stands at $12.8 million," it added.
According to the report, three sons of Asim Bajwa — Muhammad, Eusha, and Azib — have direct and absolute ownership of companies in the sectors of mining, construction, marketing, real estate, beverages, fashion and cosmetic manufacturing and investments in Pakistan and three companies in the US which include two companies in the real estate sector.
"All these companies were set up after 2015 when Asim was either director general Inter-Services Public Relations or was the commander of the Southern Command," the report said.
Following the publishing of the report, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, the organization which regulates companies in the country, started deleting data of companies owned by the sons of Asim Bajwa from its official website after 'Fact Focus' started the investigation