ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Rawalpindi region, has made “biggest ever” recovery of Rs21 billion through a plea bargain deal in famous fake bank account case being tried against top Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership.

Under the deal, approved by accountability court of Islamabad, the anti-graft watchdog has got retrieved billions of rupees worth land of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

“It is the biggest ever recovery made by the bureau and also the biggest plea bargain deal inked in the fake bank account case,” said a NAB lawyer in a video message after the court approved the deal on Tuesday. The land belongs to the government of Sindh and the PSM, therefore, the bureau has decided to hand it over to the provincial government.

Approved by court, deal is related to land owned by PSM

Former director general of the Sindh Building Control Authority Manzoor Qadir Kaka was one of the accused in the case.

The recovery of Rs21bn was made by NAB’s investigation officer Ahmed bin Zahid, case officer Mohsin Ali Khan and director Ghulam Farooq.

According to a document, over 29 acres of land situated in Sector 24-A, Scheme 33, Karachi, was exchanged illegally with 562 acres at Bin Qasim, Malir, by the Sindh government’s supervisory committee on July 23, 2012. This was done in clear violation of Section 10(4) of Colonisation of Government Land Act 1912 which defines tenant as the one who is in possession of the land.

In the instant case, Mohammad Yousuf Eidi and Ghulam Hussain Halari, owners of the 29 acres of land, applied for exchange on the pretext that their land had been encroached upon.

Thus, in lieu of 29.14 acres, 562 acres of prime land of the PSM and the Sindh government was illegally transferred to them by the committee by misusing its authority.

It was revealed during the investigation that the illegal exchange was approved by the committee comprising senior member of the Board of Revenue Shahzer Shamoon (deceased), secretary/member (land utilisation) Ghulam Mustafa Phul and DC Malir Qazi Jaan Mohammed by misusing their authority.

It was unearthed that out of 562 acres Halari and Eidi transferred 262 acres through registered lease deed to Ehsan Ellahi.

As much as 300 acres out of the 562 acres illegally allotted land has already been returned to the government of Sindh through plea bargain from some benamidars — Ghulam Hussain Halari and Yousuf Eidi.

The accused Ehsan Ellahi, resident of Natha Khan Goth, Karachi, submitted an application on Dec 2, 2020 for plea bargain under section 25(b) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, in the case as during the course of investigation he had confessed to the crime and disclosed the facts.

Famous fake bank account cases are being tried against 172 people, including former president Asif Ali Zardari, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Chief Minister of Sindh Murad Ali Shah etc.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2021

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