GUJRAT: At least 19 officials of the Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco) have been discharged in a case of embezzlement of Rs100.5 million after they deposited the embezzled amounts into the national exchequer on Friday.

However, the man accused in the case was again handed over to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on a three-day physical remand in the same case.

The FIA had registered a case against at least 26 senior Gepco officials, while 20 of them were arrested on April 17 the last.

Earlier, on Friday, an FIA team produced all the 20 suspects, belonging to revenue and accounts sections of Gepco’s Gujranwala headquarters, in a court after their two-day physical remand was completed.

The investigation officer informed the court that the FIA had no objection if the suspects are discharged from the case as they had deposited the entire amount of Rs100.5m into the Gepco’s respective accounts.

At this, 19 out of the 20 suspects were discharged from the case, while the prime accused, Naeem, who is a commercial assistant in the company, was again handed over to the FIA on a three-day physical remand.

These officials were accused of making fake entries of electricity bills recovery into the record, and instead of depositing the recovered amounts into the official accounts, they would embezzle it.

The matter was referred to the FIA’s Gujranwala directorate by the senior hierarchy of Gepco headquarters after an initial departmental probe.

These officials were arrested when they arrived at the FIA police station after being summoned for investigation.

However, the Gepco Officers’ Association and Hydro Labour Union had also lodged a protest demonstration against the arrests.

The Gepco officials had also suspended the electricity supply to FIA headquarters in protest against these arrests, accusing the agency of defaulting on payment of Rs6.8m to the company.

However, sources in the FIA had denied the charge and said that the federal agency had regularly been paying its electricity bills every month.

The power supply to the FIA offices had been restored within a few hours of suspension.

A senior FIA official told Dawn that the agency had to further investigate the main accused for which his physical remand was sought. The remaining suspects in the case have been set free after being discharged from the case, he added.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2024

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