KARACHI: Imran Noorani, a prominent figure in the betel nut industry, has come forward to expose a widespread corruption scandal involving government officials and the illegal betel nut trade. Noorani’s claims shed light on a complex web of corruption that has allowed the thriving trade of hazardous betel nut to continue despite a government-imposed ban.

Imran Noorani on a protective bail and made these disclosures during his cross examination before Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The controversy began when the government decided to prohibit the sale and production of betel nut, leading to the closure of factories as their stocks ran out. It was during this tumultuous time that Imran Noorani shared disturbing details of how the illegal trade continued to flourish. According to Noorani, a man named Sohail had deep connections with a Customs official named Mulla Aslam, during the tenure of Chief Collector Manzoor Memon.

Sohail allegedly played a pivotal role in the illegal betel nut trade, collecting exorbitant sums of money from supari factory owners. He purportedly extorted one million rupees from each small-scale factory and a staggering three million rupees from the larger establishments. This illicit practice ensured that these factories could continue their operations without interference.

Imran Noorani himself experienced the corrupt machinery at work when he received a warning call from an individual named Hanif, notifying him of an impending raid on his factory. Noorani claimed that Customs official Tayyab arrived at his factory, accepted a bribe of 2.5 million rupees, and then left with his team, assuring Noorani that his operations could continue without disruption. At the time, Dr. Fareed was serving as the Collector.

Noorani’s revelations didn’t stop there. He disclosed that similar arrangements were made with other Customs officials, Iftikhar and Jabbar Niazi, during their respective tenures as Collectors. This pattern of raids followed by clandestine agreements and payments to officials appeared to be a deeply entrenched practice.

During the Collectorship of Usman Bajwa, Noorani claimed that raids were regularly conducted on supari factories. Following these raids, underhanded agreements were reached, with the Customs officials receiving one million rupees from every supari factory each month. Additionally, a fee of 50,000 rupees was allegedly collected from every vehicle transporting betel nut to these factories.

The corruption didn’t stop at the Customs officials. Noorani revealed that he paid over 30 million rupees to a senior officer from a security agency to ensure the smooth operation of their illegal activities.

The shocking extent of corruption exposed by Imran Noorani’s revelations has sent shockwaves throughout the country. Authorities are now under immense pressure to investigate these claims and hold those responsible accountable. This scandal highlights the urgent need for a comprehensive overhaul of government institutions to eliminate corruption and illegal practices, ensuring that the rule of law prevails.