MULTAN: Commissioner Javed Akhtar Mehmood has asked Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) director general to initiatelegal proceedings against some of the Metropolitan Corporation Multan (MCM) for their involvement in alleged embezzlement of Rs130 million by making bogus payments through fake signatures of former Commissioner Shanul Haq and Director Development and Finance Waqas Khakwani.

The commissioner, in his letter to the ACE DG recommended legal action against Municipal Officer (Finance) Amjad Hussain,resident deputy director (audit and accounts) and the municipal officers of other branches concerned of the MCM.

He stated that a complainant, Kashif Chaudhry, alleged the payments were being made after the transfer of former commissioner (also administrator of MCM) using his fake signatures.

Mr Mehmood stated that on his direction a committee was constituted on October 8 to probe into the matter.

After a thorough probe, on November 7 the committee submitted its report, finding that the allegations levelled in the complaint stood proved.

The committee report stated that on scrutiny of the available record, it was observed that sizable payments amounting to approximately Rs130 million had been made from August 24, 2020 to September 5, 2020, while the payments of approximately Rs90 million were made in a single day (Sept 5, 2020).

As per the report, there were a total 589 bills and files containing works details, quotations and contingencies.

It stated that files were cleared for payment by affixing a fake signature of Mr Khawani to forward the note sheet to the then commissioner, while later on fake signatures of Mr Haq were also used to show his approval of the payments even without observing codal formalities and financial rules of local government.

Giving details, it stated the approval of payments of Rs53 million was shown by affixing fake signatures of Mr Haq against nine files of gross payment; payments of Rs20m against six works files without obtaining approval from the competent authority/administrator; payments of Rs33.28m against 184 works files through quotation without obtaining approval of Mr Shan and payments of Rs24.5m against 388 files of contingency bills without presenting any document to Mr Haq.

It stated that both Mr Haq and Mr Khakwani, through their written statements,termed their signatures on respectively nine and eight files fake.

It stated that codal formalities were not observed in making payments in almost all the bills and there was a haste in making payments as hundreds of bills were passed in a single day. Moreover, the bills related to the tenure of the previous mayor and even beyond were passed in a haste by affxing fake signatures of Mr Shan, adding that one of the passed bills dated back to 2013.

It stated that different branches of the corporation, like procurement branch, infrastructure branch, finance branch and the then acting chief corporation officers from Aug 25 to Sept 5, 2020, had not fulfilled their responsibilities under the relevant law/rules.

The committee recommended a regular inquiry under the Punjab Employees Efficiency and Discipline and Accountability Act 2006 against the suspects, specialaudit of all the payments made during Aug 24 to Sept 9, 2020, and recovery of the embezzled amount.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2020

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