A Great Investor and Awassi Express scandal

-By Nasir Mahmood

The protocol says that Prime Minister do not directly meet with any foreign investor. All such investors are required to come through their embassies and contact the concerned ministry and Board of Investment in Pakistan.

However, in the first week of April a ship management company Chief Executive and directors (registered in Singapore) visited PM Imran Khan in Islamabad in violation of the said protocol. The visit was arranged and led by Amjad Khan Niazi a PTI member and MNA from Mianwali. Four members guest team comprised of Abdul Lateef Siddiqui, Tariq Siddiqui, Syed Feroze Shah and Muhammad Irfan Siddiqui.

During the meeting Abdul Lateef Siddiqui appreciated Dam Fund project and presented donation of one hundred thousand dollar. Soon after this he offered investment of two billion dollar for shipping sector in Pakistan. He informed prime minister that PNSC has only ten ships that were able to handle only 5 percent of total trade of the country while Pakistan pays 4 billion dollars to foreign shipping companies every year. Chairman Abdul Lateef Siddiqui said his company Global Radiance wants to induct ten big merchant ships in Pakistan fleet. This investment will create thousands of job opportunities and provide good relief to national exchequer through payments in local currency, he claimed.

Imran Khan was astonished to hear about this project and instantly ordered to arrange Global Radiance team’s meeting with minister of maritime affairs Ali Zaidi. At this moment Tariq Siddiqui, Corporate Head of the Company requested for a guarantee from government that in their presence Pakistan would not trade with other foreign companies. The PM agreed with him. In addition, the Singapore Group offered another investment of 2 billion dollar in livestock sector to be initiated through Australians by farming 5 million lambs and cows in Pakistan.

Setting aside the above drama, fact is that the Singapore Group is not a ship owner company neither could be a large scale investor. They are just a shipping agent acting on behalf of the owner of the MV Awassi Express (Vessel) and Australian livestock trader Emanuel Exports, facing a criminal investigation undertaken by the country’s Federal Department of Agriculture, over the deaths of thousands of sheep in a series of voyages onboard livestock carrier Awassi Express. The department has issued Emanuel Exports with a notice, asking the Company to justify why it should be allowed to hold an export licence.

According to details there are worldwide animal rights associations taking care of the ships handling livestock cargo. The cadets on such ships go for training of 24-months before joining the service on animal-carrier ship. Untrained cadets are no allowed on the livestock carriers. But in Pakistan, the government shipping master’s office violates this law by signing on raw hand cadets’ by posing them as serving on oil tankers.

There is popular Fazul ullah vs. Awassi Express case, mis-handled by Global Radiance Livestock Management, Singapore. Abdul Lateef Siddiqui joined Global Radiance Pte Ltd as Managing Director in 2015. He brought relevant expertise to the organization with his 32 years of “hands on” experience in various aspects of International Shipping including offshore management services.

The voyage of the MV Awassi left Fermantle with 63,804 sheep on board for Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. In 2018 videos surfaced on Australian Channels about brutal handling of sheep and their dead bodies onboard MV Awassi Express. As per Channel 9 in the program 60 minute, these videos were provided by Trainee navigating officer Fazul ullah with his interview. The footage showed sheep crammed into dirty pens, panting from heat stress and leaping over each other to access food. It showed carcasses piled up and in one case thrown overboard, as well as newborn lambs being caught in the bog. Fazul said crew members also slit the throats of lambs and threw them overboard.

There was a public anger over footage showing 2,400 sheep dying from heat stress on a vessel bound for the Middle East. The footage was disgraceful; Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of livestock, with an industry estimated to be worth A$1.3 billion. While the bulk of Australia’s meat exports are processed, markets such as the Middle East and Indonesia prefer to buy live animals.

A well-known animal protection organisation in Australia hired live export workers to film deliberate acts of animal cruelty. The whistleblower was linked with Animals Australia Director of Strategy ‘Lyn White’. The charity organisation had contact with multiple live export workers who were paid for providing images and videos with guidelines to be met. Pakistani whistleblower Fazul ullah’s video footage for 60 Minutes exposed the live export industry. Lyn White had been actively recruiting live export workers to supply images and videos. She told on May 25, 2018 Fazul had “made her day” by encouraging co-workers aboard the ships to supply footage and photos. Animals Australia defended its actions, saying the evidence had led to the Australian government setting-up a dedicated hotline for reporting animal cruelty in the live export trade.

Soon after this report the Australian government had suspended the live export licence of the company Emanuel Exports pending a full review of the company’s response to a show cause notice. Emanuel was under criminal investigation, and two departmental investigations into the company and the Awassi voyage after allegations of overstocking, failing to have sufficient food and water available, animal injury and illness not being treated, and accredited vets and stockmen leaving vessels prior to unloading.

In May 2018 Australia’s federal government introduced new rules to penalize any exporter that contravenes new welfare standards. Under the changes, a director of a company could face 10 years prison or A$2.1 million fine if welfare standards are not met.

Obviously, this episode infuriated the employers of Global Radiance Livestock Management, Singapore, and they tasked its Chairman Abdul Lateef Siddiqui to nab and victimize the whistleblower Fazul ullah in Pakistan by fixing him in certain criminal cases so that he could not appear as witness before the court in Australia against Emanuel Exports in this case. Hence, to execute this order from the owner of MV Awassi Express and secure his future business in AustraliaAbdul Lateef Siddiqui adopted the role of a ‘great investor’ in Pakistan. They are also struggling to get concessions from PTI government to run illegal manning of sailors from Pakistan, informed sources disclosed.

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