ISLAMABAD, Aug 8: More than three years, four inquiries and over a dozen meetings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the NLC scam, but no result.
The committee was surprised on Wednesday when informed by defence ministry officials that they were unaware of the status of an inquiry launched by the GHQ into the highly-publicised Rs2 billion National Logistic Cell (NLC) scam involving three former military generals and two civil servants.
In the absence of newly-appointed Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik, Additional Secretary Air-Vice Marshal Arshad Qudus answered the questions of PAC members. Although it was not on the agenda, Ayaz Sadiq of the PML-N asked if the GHQ had completed its inquiry report.
Mr Qudus said the ministry was not aware of it and yet to receive a response from the GHQ. Mr Sadiq regretted that every time the committee took up the issue it was informed that the military authorities were still carrying out the investigation.
PAC Chairman Nadeem Afzal Gondal asked Mr Qudus to send a reminder to the GHQ and submit a report after Eid when the committee would take up the highlighted paras of the defence ministry audit.
The issue of financial mismanagement and alleged corruption of Rs2 billion in the military-run NLC came to light in February 2009 when the PAC asked the Planning Commission to look into the matter. Then PAC chairman Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan first gave a deadline of two months for determining the truth about the scandal. Subse-quently, four different inquiries were conducted but the issue remained unresolved.
The first inquiry was carried out by the Planning Commission. While the PAC was discussing the report of this inquiry it was informed that a consultant had been hired by the new NLC management to prepare a fresh report on the issue. Initially, the consultant’s report was not presented before the committee which after some efforts managed to get it.
After going through the two reports when the committee was about to make its final recommendations, it came to know that a chartered accountancy firm of the country had also prepared a report on the NLC which related not only to one particular scam, but a host of scams committed under one director general of NLC.
The PAC set another deadline of Dec 2010 to finalise its recommendations on the basis of investigations carried out so far, but the army announced that it would carry out its own investigation on the orders of Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
After waiting for a response from the GHQ until June 2011, Chaudhry Nisar recommended taking disciplinary actions against all those found involved in the crime.
In the inquiry reports, five ex-employees of the NLC — three retired generals and two civil servants — have been held responsible for the losses incurred between 2004 and 2008. They are: retired Lt-Generals Khalid Munir Khan and M. Afzal Muzzafar, Director General of NLC Maj-Gen (retd) Khalid Zaheer Akhtar, Director Finance and Accounts Najibur Rehman and Chief Finance Officer Saeedur Rehman.
The National Accountability Bureau also got involved in the investigation, but again to no avail. According to facts presented before the PAC after investigations, during 2004-08 the NLC administration heavily invested in the stock exchange in violation of government rules.
They not only borrowed money from commercial banks on high mark-up rates, but also used pensioners’ money.
In return, heavy commissions were received from companies through which the money had been invested. Over Rs4 billion was invested in the stock market and the NLC suffered a loss of nearly Rs1.8 billion.