KARACHI: Senior Belarussian businessmen who are bringing vital tractor manufacturing technology and investment into Pakistan are unfortunately facing harassment and threats in Pakistan.

The foreign nationals in question are directors of a Pakistani company MTW PAK that they have incorporated in Pakistan. MTW PAK holds in Pakistan the technology rights granted to it by OJSC Minsk Tractor Works, a Belarusian company owned by the government of Belarus.

Ahead of Belarussian President’s visit, MTW PAK has been incorporated in Pakistan to manufacture, assemble, market and sell tractors in joint venture with a local business group.

The issue was that the Belarussain investors, despite repeated requests, terminated their joint venture with a particular local tractor dealer due to his failure to perform his obligations under the joint venture agreement. Being angry, the said dealer has started sending complaints to various newspapers, FIA, FBR, SECP, leveling completely baseless facts and leveling allegations of corruption against the company officials when the company has not yet begun any business.

It is unfortunate that many government officials have started issuing notices to the Belarussian company without realizing that the company is yet to begin any business activity in the country. The company has not yet operated even its bank account in Pakistan.

As MTW PAK is being backed by Belarussian government, the harassment of company officials is most embarrassing, specially at a time when Belarussian president is arriving in Islamabad to sign various bilateral deals with government of Pakistan. Belarussian president is expected to take up this issue of harassment of MTW PAK officials with his Pakistan government.

The said dealer who is causing all kinds of harassment is neither a shareholder nor a director of MTW PAK. He is merely a dealer of tractors in Pakistan who entered into a joint venture with LLC BelPakSnab, a Belarusian company (parent company of MTW PAK), for importing tractors from Republic of Belarus for assembling and distribution in Pakistan. But since the joint venture, the said dealer has failed to sell a single tractor in Pakistan but has instead clashed with the officials of LLC BelPakSnab.

In response, LLC BelPakSnab was left with no option but to terminate its joint venture arrangement with the said dealer. It was then that LLC BelPakSnab itself incorporated MTW PAK in Pakistan and entered into contracts with the said company for exporting tractors from Belarus to Pakistan.

Being unhappy over the above, Shahzad, the dealer, started a dirty smearing campaign against the officials of BelPakSnab that included threatening calls and spreading rumors against the directors of MTW PAK.

One of baseless allegation contained in a written complaint sent by Mr. Shahzad, the dealer, to FIA, FBR and SECP is that MTW PAK was incorporated without the presence of one of the directors in Pakistan namely, Mr. Aliaksander Kruhlenia and that the said director has never visited Pakistan to sign bank account opening forms of Summit Bank Limited, and relevant SECP forms for incorporation of MTW PAK and relevant documents of FBR and that all signatures of Mr. Aliaksander Kruhlenia on the abovementioned documents are forged.

Surprising thing is that both FIA and FBR have started acting on the baseless complaint of Mr. Riaz accepting it as gospel truth without questioning as to what linkage this person has with MTW PAK that has yet to begun its business in Pakistan and without even giving any right of hearing to MTW PAK’s officials to check the veracity of alleged facts. FBR has even gone to the extreme of suspending sales tax registration of MTW PAK just couple of days ahead of visit of Belarussian president.

The fact is that Mr. Aliaksander Kruhlenia executed all the above mentioned documents in Republic of Belarus and there was no forgery.

What is more, in order to put an end to so much harassment and threats and to prove his bona fide, Mr. Aliaksander Kruhlenia came to Pakistan on 25th May 2015 to verify his signatures in front of the officials of SECP, FBR, Notary Public and bank in which MTW PAK had opened its account.

Another allegation of Mr. Shahzad is that MTW PAK was incorporated without proper approval of Board of Investment (BoI) and Ministry of Interior (MOI). This too is totally incorrect. MTW PAK was incorporated with SECP with two foreign directors and SECP does not allow appointment of foreign directors before seeking clearance from MOI. As for BOI, the approval stage from BOI will come when actual investment will come in Pakistan.

Not being satisfied with his malicious campaign, the unhappy local tractor dealer Mr. Riaz even filed a constitutional petition against MTW PAK in Sindh High Court. Instead of giving any relief to him, the Honorable Court has ordered Mr. Shahzad to satisfy the court about the maintainability of the petition.

While Belarussian president is yet to come, on 25.05.2015, the official delegation of Republic of Belarus arrived in Islamabad where three different Memorandum of Understandings (MOU) were signed by MTW PAK with OJSC Minsk Tractor Works, Belshina Joint Stock Company and OJSC Holding Management Company Bobruiskagromash, all three owned by the Government of Belarus.