Court summons BISP’s former chief, others over graft in issuing ads

Published May 17, 2020
The 32-page reference against the PPP leader and others taken up by the accountability court. — AP/File
The 32-page reference against the PPP leader and others taken up by the accountability court. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court of Islamabad on Saturday summoned former chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Farzana Raja, a former press information officer and 17 others over alleged corruption in issuing advertisements without adhering to relevant laws.

The administrative judge of the accountability court, Mohammad Bashir, issued summons for the suspects nominated in a reference and directed them to appear before him on June 1.

The suspects had allegedly allotted illegal contracts to four advertising companies that inflicted losses of billions of rupees on BISP.

The 32-page reference against the Pakistan Peoples Party leader and others taken up by the accountability court stated that a complaint was received in the National Account­­ability Bureau (NAB) which alleged that the BISP awarded contracts to advertising agencies in the years 2009-10 and 2010-11 in violation of the Public Procurement Rules, 2004.

It was further alleged that Rs1.657 billion was awarded to one advertising agency namely M/s Midas (Private) Limited.

The competent authority authorised an inquiry on May 23, 2014 which was subsequently upgraded into investigation. It further said that the evidence collected during the investigation has established that Ms Raja and others being public office holders, by misusing their respective authorities, pre-qualified advertising agencies in the year 2009 and awarded the media campaign of the BISP in violation of the PPR, 2004 as well as PID guidelines and released media payments against the alleged exaggerated fake bills submitted by the suspects and committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices.

Meanwhile, the accountability court has been directed to conclude the Pink Residency reference in which a close aide of former president Asif Ali Zardari, property tycoon Malik Riaz, his son and son-in-law are also among the suspects.

The prosecution informed the accountability court that a two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court has issued direction to the accountability court for concluding the reference in eight months.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2020

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