In September 2018, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in Liberia’s capital Monrovia to protest the disappearance of millions of dollars from the country’s central bank.
“Bring back our money,” the crowd chanted after Liberian banknotes worth at least $100 million in U.S. dollars, ordered by the Central Bank from printers in China and Sweden, disappeared after reaching two main ports in the country between November 2017 and August 2018.
It is not just Liberia where ordinary citizens feel powerless to stop military dictators and their civilian underlings plunder the national exchequer with fortunes that end up in Europe, but also in Canada and the United States.
Remember the question of Qaddafi’s missing $200 billion?
One observer of how generals in the developing world plunder the countries they rule is Fazlul Rahman Chowdhury, who recently retired from the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
An article by Chowdhury in the South Asian Journal has the headline: “Money and dictators from the poor countries get a red carpet in the western nations.” According to the author, “The latest trend is [for Third World elites] to buy property abroad,” naming Canada as one of the preferred destinations.
Chowdhury is not alone. Kevin Comeau, a retired lawyer who has studied money laundering in Canada, wrote last year in the Financial Post that “[c]riminals from corrupt and authoritarian regimes fear keeping their illicit assets in their home countries because someone closer to power may confiscate those assets. They reduce that risk by investing their dirty money in Western liberal democracies where the rule of law prevents arbitrary confiscation.”
Most Canadians are oblivious of the shenanigans that third world military dictators do to bring their millions into our country. But a new alleged scandal that involves the Pakistan branch of China’s Belt and Road Initiative’ — the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — has a Canadian component to it.
The multi-billion dollar CPEC project links China straight to the Indian Ocean cutting through Balochistan, which is under Pakistan military occupation. The Pakistani general overseeing the CPEC project, and previously the war in Balochistan, is Lt. General Asim Bajwa, who also happens to be an advisor to Prime Minister Imran Khan.
On Aug. 27, Pakistani journalist Ahmad Noorani published a story backed by many documents posted online that revealed the assets and business operations of family members of Bajwa.
Noorani provided documentary evidence of how the recently retired Bajwa’s family — who come from a middle-class family — became very wealthy practically overnight in the U.S. The report revealed details of dozens of Bajwa pizza franchises and multiple companies registered in the U.S., Canada, and the United Arab Emirates.
Such a phenomenal rise would usually be an inspiration for many immigrants. But it has caused eyebrows to be raised.
When one social media user pointed out that the company’s rise seemed to coincide with the timing of the General’s promotions within the military, Malik Bajwa — the president of Bajco Group — responded that his “website clearly shows the entire expansion history which started from 2006 and always used bank financing which is available on very low interest rate.”
But this story has caused considerable drama and has been described as a “corruption scandal” by international media reporting on the story. The original reporter, Noorani, is now facing death threats and has left Pakistan.
Reacting to the revelations that have caused ripples even inside China and rumoured to be a possible reason why China’s Xi Jinping cancelled a visit to Pakistan, the retired general took to Twitter himself where he denied any wrongdoing: “I strongly rebut the baseless allegations levelled against me and my family. Alhamdolillah [Thanks to Allah] another attempt to damage our reputation belied/exposed. I have and will always serve Pakistan with pride and dignity.”
Now back to the protesting Liberians who chanted “bring back our money.”
Is it possible there may be a few Canadians who find themselves chanting the opposite — “take back your dirty money” — outside of the Pakistani Embassy?
In September 2018, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in Liberia’s capital Monrovia to protest the disappearance of millions of dollars from the…