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MULTAN: National Accountability Bureau Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal has transferred the investigations in connection with tracking/trailing of financial transactions into accounts of Chinese firm M/s Yabaite Technology Company Limited from Multan to Rawalpindi, Dawn has learnt.

Sources said a decision to the effect was made after the NAB chairman expressed his displeasure over the way the investigations into the the Multan Metro Bus corruption case were going on.

NAB Rawalpindi Deputy Director Mubashir Kareem has been made investigation officer, who, during his visit to Multan a couple of months back, collected the record from the officials of Multan Development Authority and NAB investigation officer in Multan.

An inquiry into the Multan Metro Bus Project was authorised on Sept 11, 2017 which was converted into investigations on June 8, 2018 and officials of Multan Development Authority, Punjab Mass Transit Authority, consultant and contractors of the project were declared accused of committing embezzlement of funds.

Decision made after ‘haphazard’ investigations into metro bus case

Muhammad Ilyas Qamar was the case officer (CO) while Deputy Director Muhammad Shahid was the investigation officer (IO) of the case.

The first investigation [into the case] covered three major aspects including tracking/trailing of financial transactions into accounts of Yabaite Technology Company Limited, approvals of the project and evaluation of feasibility study and evaluation of tendering process, award of contracts, execution of works, procurement and payments made to contractors, sub-contractors, vendors and others.

In October last, a NAB team consisting of Director General NAB Rawalpindi Irfan Naeem Mangi and IO Shahid went to China in order to interrogate president/director Yabaite Technology Company Limited in connection with tracking of financial transactions into accounts of his company.

In the first investigation, the IO stated that the China Security Regulatory Commission (CSRC) informed Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan that Yabaite China claimed that it remained involved in Multan Metro Bus Project through M/s Habib Rafiq Limited wherein it provided deliverables through Capital Engineering and Construction Company (CECC).

Yabaite further claimed that CECC paid it $19.58 million whereas $17.08m were paid through 16 third-party companies from Hong Kong, USA, Malaysia and other regions including Middle East countries.

The [NAB] IO collected record from SECP, Federal Investigation Agency, Punjab police, MDA and quizzed all concerned officials including senators while the NAB investigation team also interrogated two persons namely Shaikh Ijaz Asghar and Salman Iqbal in judicial custody who were imprisoned in Central Jail, Lahore, and arrested by the Punjab police in another case.

The team also through SBP scrutinised the bank accounts of 16 companies to verify the transactions besides requesting the NAB headquarters to obtain record pertaining to investigation conducted by the CSRC against Yabaite China while it has also examined the accounts holders who deposited various amounts with the accounts of two companies - AG International and Horizon International.

According to initial report, Mr Asghar had been working with different Chinese companies since 2001 and could speak and understand Chinese language comfortably. In 2014-15, he was working with M/s Yabaite China and was being paid $5000 per month by the company and his assignments were to arrange meetings with Pakistani businessmen and dignitaries.

It stated that President/Director of Yabaite China Yang Lu visited Pakistan in 2015 and tasked Mr Asghar with obtaining some letters of appreciation regarding work done by the Yabaite China in the Multan bus project.

It stated that meanwhile Salman Iqbal, who used to introduce himself as worker of PML-N also joined Asghar and they both facilitated Yang Lu in preparing three forged letters which were used by Yang Lu in order to justify his suspected income declared in China.

It said that both Asghar and Iqbal were promised a partnership by Yang Lu in a company to be registered in Pakistan and initially documents were submitted to the SECP for the registration of a company in the name of Capital Engineering and Construction Company; however due to non-availability of name with SECP for registration Yabaite Construction Company Pakistan was registered in October 2016 with 70 per cent share of Yang Lu and 30pc of Asghar.

However, the record of the company collected from SECP revealed that no business work was carried out by the Yabaite Construction Company Pakistan.

The report stated that none of the three companies - Yabaite China, Capital Engineering and Construction Company and Yabaite Construction Company Pakistan - executed any kind of work being contractor or sub-contractor while CSRC also forwarded name of 16 companies located in Middle East from where supposedly funds were transferred.

“As per record collected, it has been found that these 16 companies have no link with the contractor companies who were awarded contract of Multan Metro Bus Project and no remittance was made from the contractor companies to said companies; however it has been revealed that only two companies - AG International and Horizontal International - remitted amount to one company - M/s London Silk Trading Company - which has no link to Multan Metro Bus Project,” it stated.

NAB spokesman Nawazish Ali Asim confirmed that the investigation has been shifted to Rawalpindi.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2019