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KARACHI: The National Accountability Bureau, Karachi, on Friday decided to expedite its efforts to give back plots to the victims of 53 housing scams.

A high-level meeting of NAB reviewed over 53 housing scams, majority of which were located in Karachi, and decided to expedite inquiries/investigations to restore lands to original allottees and prevent such frauds.

Participants of the meeting also observed that “weak regulations and poor legal framework” had put enormous burden on NAB in terms of number of complaints.

A spokesperson for the anti-graft watchdog said that the Karachi director general of NAB chaired the meeting “for review of cases under inquiries and investigation that pertain to housing scams”.

It was pointed out by the directors of the investigation wings that the highest number of cases related to housing scams pertained to cooperative housing schemes.

It was further stated that there were total 53 cases of various cooperative societies in which thousands of people had been deprived of their rightful titles of properties by “way of fraud and cheating perpetrated by office holders of societies in connivance with regulators and officials of the Sindh cooperation department”.

Out of 53 cases, 12 are under inquiry, 19 under advanced stage of investigation and 22 references are being tried by accountability courts of Karachi and Hyderabad.

Out of these cases, 44 societies are located in Karachi and nine in Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Jamshoro, etc.

“It was also apprised that weak regulation on the part of government authorities and poor legal framework have exacerbated the state of affairs. It leads to enormous number of complaints pouring in at NAB against cooperative societies,” said the spokesperson.

The NAB DG issued directions to the combined investigation teams (CITs) to expedite the cases, recover the lands and restore to their rightful owners as early as possible in order to allay the plight of the poor people seeking return of their hard-earned money.

He also issued directions to the awareness and prevention (A&P) wing “to engage with the Sindh cooperation department to pursue measures on their part to prevent more offences in cooperative societies and take stringent actions against delinquent registrars, assistant registrars and administrators involved in irregularities and conniving with land grabbers”.

He appreciated the director of the investigation wing-I for executing plea bargain in the Pak Punjab Cooperative Society for return of plots and issued directions to prosecutors to vigorously pursue prosecution in trial courts to ensure conviction of culprits.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2019