LAHORE: As the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has decided in principle to summon a brother of the former army chief over investigations into the Rs16 billion DHA City (Lahore) scam, the proceedings may have some legal as well as political ramifications.
Some politicians Dawn spoke to on this matter say that many pillars of the state during the last PPP regime find themselves caught in some kind of financial controversies.
There were controversies regarding the role of former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in his son Arsalan Iftikhar’s case; Parvez Kayani was sitting army chief when some shoddy real estate deals were inked, and there is a long list of corruption charges against prime ministers and some ministers of the last PPP government.
“NAB has decided in principle to summon the owner of Elysium Holdings Pakistan Limited to join the investigation,” a source in the bureau told Dawn on Tuesday. The role of Elysium Holdings, an alleged partner with the principal accused firm — Globaco (Pvt) Ltd — was being thoroughly examined, he said.
Elysium Holdings, owned by Kamran Kayani, the younger brother of former army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, is accused of helping Globaco acquire the DHA City project.
“How much share it got from Globaco is also being investigated,” the source said, adding that Globaco had also engaged Elysium Holdings in the purchase of the land.
Kamran Kayani is reportedly abroad these days. Another inquiry against his firm has been pending with NAB for several months.
A formal inquiry against Elysium Holdings was initiated by NAB in April last year for its alleged involvement in the sale of allotment certificates for the DHA Islamabad farmhouse project scam amounting to Rs500 million. The bureau issued a notice to the firm for reply.
NAB appears to be tightlipped over the status of this inquiry, triggering speculations whether it is facing any pressure from those at the helm or has some other compulsions.
“The matter is sub judice,” was NAB spokesman Nawazish Ali’s response to Dawn’s query. He suggested avoiding speculations when asked if the NAB chairman had issued any standing instruction over the matter.
Hammad Arshad, the prime accused in the DHA City scam and owner of Globaco, was arrested last week and has been in NAB custody on physical remand since then. His company had signed an agreement with DHA EME in November 2009 to develop DHA City on a land measuring 25,000 kanals near Thokhar Niaz Baig.
According to NAB, Globaco was assigned the responsibility to acquire the land, but it failed to honor the agreement. Hammad managed to purchase only 13,103 kanals of land and that too in scattered form. He issued allotment letters and collected money from people to the tune of Rs15.47bn. He later transferred the money to his personal accounts and used the same for his personal gains and invested it in other business ventures, NAB said.
It said no development work was carried out in the DHA City. By doing so, Hammad cheated the general public and families of soldiers and martyrs, depriving them of their hard-earned money.
Officials said NAB had detected over a dozen bank accounts of Hammad and the money recovered from him would be distributed among the affected people. So far there are more than 11,715 registered affectees.
Interestingly, the role of the DHA management is also dubious in the Lahore and Islamabad scams.
“Since Globaco had been slow in acquiring the land and subsequently developing it, the DHA management could have cancelled the agreement and initiated legal proceedings against the company,” a source said, adding that some DHA officials argued that the management could not initiate action against the firm in time because the ‘powerful connections’ of the principal accused did not let it do so.
“Once the DHA management got clearance from top authorities, it handed over the case to NAB a few months ago,” the source said.
DHA Lahore spokesman Ejaz Hayat told Dawn that it had approached NAB for action against Globaco (now Orange Holdings Private Limited), an offshoot of Eden Private Limited, for the Rs16bn DHA City scam.
Asked why the DHA management had acted late in the case, he said he would give a reply after speaking to the authorities concerned.
A lawyer told Dawn that NAB would send a notice to Kamran Kayani at his local address. “In case of no response from him, the bureau could move the accountability court to further proceed against him for non-cooperation,” he said.
Retired Brig Amjad Kayani, another brother of Gen Kayani, told a TV channel that Kamran was ready to face any inquiry. He claimed that Kamran had not facilitated any deal between the two parties and that Gen Kayani had nothing to do with the “actions and business interests of his brothers”.
The last PPP regime’s prime ministers — Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf — are facing different cases of corruption.
Mr Glani is facing 12 corruption cases, including the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan scam, while Mr Ashraf is named in the rental power plants case.
Former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s son Dr Arsalan is accused of having received over Rs340 million from property tycoon Malik Riaz.
And now the name of Gen Kayani’s brother is doing the rounds in the multi-billion DHA scams.
“When I was a minister in the previous PPP government, I heard a lot of dastaans (corruption stories) about Kamran Kayani,” Punjab PPP President Manzoor Wattoo said, but added that he had no knowledge beyond the rumours.
Another PPP leader said: “How could one in our government dare investigate allegations against the brother of the sitting army chief. It was a highly sensitive matter.”
Mr Wattoo claimed that Iftikhar Chaudhry had thwarted the PPP government’s move to investigate his son’s alleged corruption by NAB. “We wanted to probe corruption charges against Iftikhar Chaudhry’s son through NAB, but he intervened and set up a tribunal in order to save him.”
About the corruption cases against former premiers Gilani and Ashraf, Mr Wattoo said: “The Sharif brothers snubbed the NAB chairman when he presented a report on 150 mega corruption cases, involving Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.”
He said Nawaz Sharif was alone facing some 20 NAB references.
“The PML-N government is doing selective accountability. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has already made it clear that selective accountability aimed at PPP men will not be tolerated,” Mr Wattoo said.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2016