LAHORE: As the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) registered a total of 12 FIRs against the Evacuee Trust Property Board’s two former heads and 20 officials for their alleged role in irregularities in the sale of urban properties, the board has filed an appeal in the apex court, citing flaws in the one-man commission’s report regarding the audit paras.

The working of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) reportedly has come to a grinding halt because of the FIA action.

No arrest has been made so far in this regard.

The board members on Wednesday held a meeting here with Dr Aamer Ahmad in the chair. ETPB Secretary Hamid Masood Gondal briefed the meeting about the FIA’s forensic audit and its action against the board’s officials on the Supreme Court’s orders (in illegal sale or award on lease of urban properties).

According to the board, Dr Ahmad said the apex court had ordered the FIA to conduct ‘more investigation’ as the audit team had not met the legal requirements while composing them.

“The one-man commission had not met legal requirements before submitting the report before the apex court. There is a proper procedure for forensic audit which was not adopted,” Dr Ahmad said and added that because of the FIA’s cases, the board officials were in fear and (those nominated) had secured pre-arrest bail.

The board chief further said that audit paras were not a “final verdict”. “We have written to the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) office and also a review petition has been filed in the Supreme Court,” he said.

On the other hand, the FIA has registered a total 12 FIRs against two former ETPB chiefs -- Siddiqul Farooq and Asif Hahmi – 15 incumbent officials and five retired ones for their role in illegal award of urban properties on lease or their selling, so far.

Mr Farooq and Mr Hashmi are associated with the PML-N and the PPP, respectively.

The FIA has registered most FIRs under sections 409 (criminal breach of trust, dishonest misappropriation of property), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 109 (abatement) PPC r/w 5(2)47 PCA.

A source said some of the ETPB officials nominated in the FIRs had gone into hiding.

“A couple of them even managed to leave the country,” he said.

In the letter to AGP, the ETPB had sought convening of a ‘mandatory’ departmental accounts committee (DAC) of the ministry on its observations to have a black and white picture of the asymmetries.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2021

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