ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has recovered more than Rs224 million in the fake bank accounts scam and handed over the amount to the Sindh government.
The amount was specifically recovered in a project related to installation of solar streetlights in different municipal and town committee areas under the Roshan Sindh programme.
NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal gave a cheque for over Rs224.071 million to Sindh Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah in a meeting that was also attended by senior officials of the bureau on Monday.
During the meeting, NAB Rawalpindi Director General Irfan Naeem Mangi said the bureau had initiated a probe into illegal award of contracts for installing solar streetlights in municipal and town committees of Sindh and found 19 contractors had deposited kickbacks in different fake bank accounts.
Amount pertains to solar lights project; chairman says Rs10bn recovered in sugar scandal
Investigation revealed that three contractors/firms — Wadood Engineering Service, MJB Construction Company and Zafar Enterprises — were illegally awarded six contracts pertaining to the project by officers of the Rural Development Department, Sindh.
Mr Mangi said an expert from the Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies, Islamabad, along with a NAB team, collected solar lights from Hyderabad, Sukkur and Larkana and tested them in the PCRET laboratory.
It was revealed that the solar panel, battery, charge controller and LED were contrary to PC-I specifications.
The expert provided per unit cost of solar light based on the market survey and found that exorbitant profits were charged by the contractors, as an item whose actual cost ranged between Rs600 and Rs2,000 had been purchased for Rs60,000.
According to NAB, the national exchequer suffered a loss of Rs401.2 million as a result, which included Rs22.3m kickbacks paid to government officials.
Former provincial minister Sharjeel Memon had allegedly received Rs77m which was deposited in a fake bank account.
Irfan Mangi said the total liability of the project was Rs505m.
The accused persons admitted their offence, entered into a plea bargain and deposited Rs305m, out of which a cheque for Rs224.071m was given to the Sindh government on Monday.
NAB had also handed over land worth Rs11.66 billion to the provincial government in the same case.
Around 172 people are facing investigations in the fake bank accounts scam, including former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, former chief minister Qaim Ali Shah, provincial minister Anwar Siyal, property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain and others.
Speaking on the occasion, the NAB chairman said that reaching the logical conclusion in mega corruption cases was the topmost priority of the bureau.
“NAB is not affiliated with any political party, group or individual. It believes in a corruption-free Pakistan and considers it a national duty,” he added.
He said the bureau had recovered Rs10bn during investigation into the sugar scam in Sindh and deposited the amount in the national exchequer and subsequently returned to the provincial government.
Similarly, NAB recovered, directly and indirectly, Rs23bn in the fake accounts cases and deposited the amount in the national exchequer. It had also returned two plots worth Rs500m to the Sindh government.
Justice Javed Iqbal said the former director general of the Sindh Building Control Authority, Manzoor Kaka, had illegally allotted 506 acres of Pakistan Steel land, out of which documents of 300 acres worth Rs1bn were returned to the provincial government.
Talking about other achievements of NAB Karachi, he said that due to vigorous prosecution by the bureau, the accountability court in Karachi had accepted a plea bargain request from accused Kamran Iftikhar Lari of Rs1.27bn in the Pakistan State Oil case.
He said NAB was probing a case related to a shortfall of anti-rabies vaccine in public hospitals across Sindh.
Dog-bite patients had become prone to rabies as the Sindh government had failed to provide the vaccine to healthcare facilities, and hence it remains unavailable at most public hospitals.
Later, Sindh Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah thanked Justice Javed Iqbal for handing over Rs224.071m to the provincial government and appreciated the efforts of the bureau in the eradication of corruption.
Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2020