Pakistan officials confirm the arrest of Lakhani brothers

Pakistan officials confirm the arrest of Lakhani brothers

ISLAMABAD, May 11 Kyodo

Pakistani authorities on Wednesday confirmed newspaper reports that Amin Lakhani and Sultan Lakhani of the Lakhani business group have been arrested for “misappropriating billions of rupees.”

The two brothers have been missing since Monday evening after Amin left his office in Karachi and Sultan left his residence in Lahore. Their sudden disappearance triggered speculation among their family members that they were either kidnapped or arrested by government authorities.

Pakistani newspapers reported Tuesday the two were arrested by the National Accountability Bureau, which was set up by the military government to investigate corruption and tax evasion among politicians, industrialists and government bureaucrats.

The NAB, which confirmed the arrest of the Lakhani brothers, has already files nearly 50 cases of corruption and tax evasion against the high and the powerful in the country.

Newspaper reports said the Lakhani brothers were accused of bribing the government of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to obtain a franchise to run McDonald’s fast food chains in Pakistan.

The Lakson group, which has interests in chemical, textile, tobacco and newspaper publishing, is ranked as one the 22 richest families in Pakistan, with assets worth 500 billion rupees (about $10 billion).

In November last year, the government of military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf arrested several leading businessmen, some of whom are still in jail for defaulting on the repayment of bank loans.

Pakistani banks have bad loans worth nearly 300 billion rupees and defaulters include some of the richest families in the country, including Sharif’s relatives and several of his ministers.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Kyodo News International, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group