The National Accountability Bureau's Rawalpindi office on Thursday filed a corruption reference against former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani and others for "misuse of authority in illegal publicity campaign through M/S Midas Pvt Ltd and attempt to cause loss to the national exchequer."
Midas is a Lahore-based advertising agency which handles the accounts of most major political parties.
According to a press release issued by NAB, the others named in the case include former principal information officer Muhammad Saleem, former Universal Services Fund (USF) chief executive officer (CEO) Riaz Asher Siddiqui, Midas CEO Inam Akbar, former USF company secretary Syed Hasan Shikoh, and former personal assistant to the public relations officer IT Muhammad Hanif.
The NAB handout said that Gilani in 2011, as minister of IT, ordered the running of a media campaign to highlight the achievements of the USF. Then Ministry of IT (MoIT) secretary Farooq Awan "misused his authority in award of illegal publicity campaign through M/S Midas Pvt Ltd against rules and attempted to cause loss to national exchequer."
It went on to say that Midas CEO Inam Akbar "violated the Press Information Department instructions and prescribed procedures regarding media campaigns and undertook the entire electronic media campaign without getting any written orders (release order) neither from the MoIT nor from USF and served bill for payment."
The media campaign was launched by Midas, which was not on the USF panel, "neither before, nor afterward".
"However it was manipulated by accused Riaz Asher Siddiqui, CEO USF, to place it on th epanel in connivance with the accused Muhammad Saleem, PIO and PID, to legitimise the media campaign and to facilitate payment of Rs128 million."
Additionally, the NAB statement said, there was no competition held to grant Midas the award "which is totally against the PPRA rules and policy guidelines by the Ministry of Information Broadcasting and the PID".
NAB states that the suspects "in connivance with each other processed for an ex-post factor approval by the Board to legitimise the payment to M/S Midas Pvt Ltd and to cause loss to the national exchequer to the tune of Rs128m approximately.
However, due to timely cognisance by NAB, illegal payment was stopped to M/S Midas" and a reference was filed before an accountability court judge today.