NICL scam: government urged to..

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National Assembly s Standing Committee on Commerce on Thursday recommended to the federal government to provide full financial and human resources to FIA for vigorous prosecution of NICL real estate scam.

Presided over by Engineer Khurram Dastigir Khan, an energetic Member of the National Assembly, the committee expressed its dissatisfaction over the progress made by the FIA, Karachi and decided to summon Director FIA, Moazam Jah for questioning. The names of Chaudhry Monis Elahi and Senior Commerce Minister, Makhdoom Amin Fahim were again echoed on their alleged role in the NICL scam during the proceedings of the standing committee. Deputy Director, FIA, Karachi, Altaf Hussain informed the committee that Senior Commerce Minister s manager, Ali Hasan, who once contested elections for the provincial assembly, has returned Rs 4. 2 million. This amount had been used to settle loans of a private bank. During the proceeding, the committee was informed that a Karachi-based evaluator, Ahmad Associates, contracted to evaluate the purchased property, was not authorised by the State Bank to evaluate property more than Rs 400 million. When some committee members enquired as to who was responsible for contracting the services of Ahmad Associates, Zaafar Qureshi pointed a finger at Secretary Commerce and incumbent Chairman NICL. FIA Karachi has already registered a case against Ahmad Associates. FIA has registered cases of corruption and embezzlement against Monis Elahi under different clause, ie 409, 420, 468, 471, 109 PPC etc. Zafar Qureshi, who recently took charge of the NICL case after Supreme Court s intervention briefed the committee that he has relieved both public prosecutors from the case and requested the government to appoint a renowned lawyer of integrity to fight the case as the accused is very influential and has hired the services of renowned lawyers. According to Zafar Qureshi, no progress has been made in NICL case investigation since April 18, 2011 when he was transferred by the federal government. All types of hindrances were created by the concerned authorities in fair and transparent investigation which was a clear violation of apex court s orders. I was transferred thrice and suspended four times since April 18, 2011, said the top investigator who, according to the accused Monis Elahi s counsel, is a biased party in the case. He, however, assured the committee that he has no personal interest in the case; he is pursuing it in the national interest. If I remain here I will recover every penny of national exchequer from the accused, he assured the committee members. Kashmala Tariq and Ms Tahira Aurangzeb raised a number of questions about the facilities being given to key accused of NICL, ie Moonis Elahi and Ayaz Niazi. It appears that it is a nexus which plundered the public exchequer using others names including managers, said a furious Kashmala. Queshi briefed the committee as to how Rs 320 million were received by Chaudhry Moonis Elahi through opening fake bank accounts in the name of two persons. According to Qureshi the reason for keeping him away from FIA offices from September 13 to 15 was because September 15 was Chaudhry Moonis Elahi s exoneration date. The committee members appreciated him for his professional work. He complained that he was not given any support by the FIA headquarters in NICL investigation. In reply to a question from the standing committee members, Qureshi said that a lot of evidences are yet to be collected as no progress was made during his absence from the office. He, however, regretted to respond to a question of the possibility of tampering of the record during his absence, saying it is a sensitive matter. Answering a question, Qureshi said that the entire amount of Rs 1. 6863 billion paid to the seller of 803 Kanal 19 Marla land has been recovered and deposited in NICL account. Total amount recovered in both case is Rs 1. 7653 billion. No amount has been recovered from Moonis Elahi, but he hoped that it would be recovered soon. Money laundering and other case have yet to be filed. An offer was received by NICL from Mohsin Habib Warraich to conditionally settle the differential amount of Rs 500 million between purchase price (Rs 1. 06 billion) and the valuation carried out by Nespak Rs 562. 5 million. Out of this discrepancy Rs 80. 4 million has been received by NICL and the balance of Rs 420 million is still to be paid to NICL. Information was provided to the committee that NICL had written to FIA Lahore that it preferred to receive the entire amount upfront in cash. An application has also been filed in the trial court in this regard. We are going to auction the properties of proclaimed offenders including Mohsin Habib Warraich to recover the plundered money, Qureshi maintained. Some of the committee members raised their concern over discrimination with special reference to Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, saying that the influential accused is staying in a rest house while others are in jail. They maintained that Chief Secretary Punjab should be summoned and questioned in this regard. Former Minister of State for Commerce, Hamid Yar Hiraj said that it appears that the entire country is being run through collusion. Chairman, Khurram Dastgir asked acting Chairman NICL about use of official facilities by the former Chairman Ayaz Niazi including chauffeur driven car. He did not deny that Niazi is using NICL facilities. Information provided by the FIA Karachi to the committee revealed that Rs 356. 2 million has so far been recovered from Koranji land deal. NICL purchased 10 acres of land in Koranji at Rs 900 million, real price of which is Rs about 500 million. Cases have already been registered against Ayaz Niazi, Khurr Gardezi, Naveed Zaidi, Muhammad Zahoor, Azhar Naqvi, Zahid Hussain, Ijaz Shaikh, Javeed Syed, Ameen Qasim Dada, Khalid Anwaer, Khawajwa Akbar, Zafar Saleem (died in air crash), Ahsan Iqbal etc. The committee expressed displeasure over progress in Dubai property scam and decided to summon Director FIA, Karachi in the next meeting. The committee was informed that a summary has been moved by Ministry of Commerce for appointment of a regular Chairman NICL. The Acting Chairman, NICL, categorically stated during the committee meeting that the financial status of the company is very healthy as Rs 10 billion has been invested in treasury bills through SBP by open auction, yield on which is 13. 5 percent. Regarding revenue collection from Nato-ISAF for using NHA roads the committee was informed that there is no formal agreement with Nato/ISAF on this except for an MoU signed with the UK government and as such no revenue is being collected from them except toll plaza charges. During the previous regime this was dealt as a military matter and Ministry of Commerce was kept out of the loop. The committee recommended that the government should bring the transportation and supply to Nato/ISAF forces under the ambit of law. Chairman, Standing Committee on Narcotics Affairs, Mutaza Javed Abbasi, raised serious concern over the damage to infrastructure by heavy Nato/ISAF containers. NHA official informed the committee that damage to roads and other infrastructure by Nato containers is Rs 122 billion. A report in this regard has been submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He informed the committee that NHA is considering imposing transit free and international border cross fee to be used for repair and rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure. He admitted that Nato containers are carrying a greater load than approved which is the main reason for the destruction of roads. The discussion on TDAP Ordinance was deferred till next meeting as Secretary Commerce revealed that deliberation on the Ordinance was ongoing with the Ministry. The meeting was attended by Ms Yasmeen Rehman, Nauman Islam Sheikh, Ms Tahira Aurangzeb, Haji Muhammad Akram Ansari, Ms Shireen Arshad Khan, Hamid Yar Hiraj Ms Kashmala Tariq, Ms Jamila Gilani, Ms Qudsia Arshad and Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Secretary Commerce, Zafar Mahmood, and Chief Executive Officer(CEO), TDAP and Tariq Iqabal Puri.

Courtesy : Business Recorder

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