Rs77.4m fraud: Punjab IGP for action against guilty traffic officials

Updated 28 Sep 2020

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A traffic police official fines a motorcyclist in Punjab. — Photo couretsy Traffic Police Punjab website
A traffic police official fines a motorcyclist in Punjab. — Photo couretsy Traffic Police Punjab website

LAHORE: The traffic police department seems to be an attractive sector for financial embezzlement, as another mega scam worth Rs77.4 million has been detected — the second in as many months.

These irregularities were detected in the department’s accounts having been committed allegedly with the connivance of officials of the accountant general office during 2017-18. Farooq Mazhar, a BS-21 police officer, was heading the department at that time; he is currently serving as the additional inspector general of the police’s Elite Force.

An official inquiry report — a copy of which is available with Dawn — reported serious irregularities, violations of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority rules, irregular payments, excess and double withdrawal of allowances and leave encashment.

The inspector general of police (IGP) has referred the matter to the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) director general for registration of a case against the officials found guilty.

Second corruption scandal unearthed in traffic police department in around two months

This is the second corruption scandal unearthed in the department in around two months. Earlier, the ACE had lodged a case after an embezzlement of Rs22m had been detected in the accounts during the 2018-19 period.

The then IGP Shoaib Dastgir had recommended to the ACE the fact-finding team’s report for registration of a case against the officials involved in the corruption. At that time, BS-20 officer, Dr Akhtar Abbas, was heading the department serving as the traffic police additional inspector general.

Following the scandal, a panel of probing officers had also recommended to the IGP to forward a case to the Establishment Division Islamabad to initiate proceedings against Mr Abbas over lack of supervision.

Interestingly, investigation into the Rs22m embezzlement had been initiated on the instructions of Mr Mazhar after he was posted as the additional IG traffic police for the second time.

According to official documents, an internal audit of the accounts of traffic deputy inspector general from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 was conducted by the internal accountability branch of the police on the directions of the former IGP.

“Subsequently, 22 audit paras regarding fraud, embezzlement and losses to the state money amounting to Rs77.4m were raised by the auditors,” the inquiry report reads.

An embezzlement of Rs46.9m was reported under the head of petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) while others included purchase of office stationery, printing and publication, repair of transport, purchase of machinery, equipment, furniture and double withdrawal of leave encashment by some officers during 2017-18. Double withdrawal of leave encashment had also been pointed out in the inquiry report for 2018-19.

The inquiry report had recommended action against traffic police officials, including the former accountant, vendors and officers of the accountant general office. After according approval to the report, the IGP sent it to the anti-corruption chief for registration of a case and legal action against the guilty officers.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2020