ISLAMABAD: The Army will actively pursue the multi-billion rupees National Logistics Cell (NLC) scam and three ex-generals are likely to face court martial, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bukhari said at a press briefing on Saturday.
The Nab chief said he had recently discussed the case with Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who did not object to any action against the accused. “I think the top army officers will also have to face court martial,” Admiral Bukhari said.
An inquiry report pending before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had held responsible two retired lieutenants general, a major general and two civilians for causing a colossal loss to the NLC since 2003 by investing the organisation’s funds in the stock market in defiance of then prime minister Shaukat Aziz’s orders.
The report held responsible for the imprudent investment lieutenants general Afzal Muzaffar and Khalid Munir Khan, NLC director general major general Khalid Tahir Akhtar, deputy finance officer Najeebullah and chief finance officer Saeedur Rehman. The last two named were civilians.
The bureau had claimed last month that it would jointly investigate the scam with military authorities, but the Nab chief did not mention such an understanding on Saturday.
Presently, the accountability bureau and the General Headquarters (GHQ) are separately investigating the scandal related to investment of NLC funds in stock business from 2004 to 2008.
According to a military officer, the chief of army staff had ordered a high-level inquiry into the scam in Nov 2010. “The inquiry is under way and is at an advanced stage. Disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty,” he said.
He dispelled a perception that the inquiry had been ordered just to pre-empt a sweeping verdict on the scam by a parliamentary committee and ensure that the army officers involved in the case were spared and only the civilians faced an action.
In reply to a question, he said under the rules army officers could also face court martial if serious charges against them were proved.
According to information presented before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), bosses of the NLC made heavy investments in stock exchanges in violation of rules. Besides borrowing money from commercial banks at high mark-up, they also used pensioners’ money for the business.
In return, heavy commissions were received from companies through which an investment of over Rs 4 billion had been made in the stock market.
The NLC reportedly suffered a loss of nearly Rs 1.8 billion.
The PAC took up the case two years ago, but when it was close to completing the investigation, military authorities decided to investigate it themselves. The PAC decided in November last year to withhold its final recommendations and give time to the military authorities after COAS Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani announced that the GHQ would hold its own investigation into the scandal.
The army has so far not made public the outcome of the investigation against three generals.
The army had announced that a serving corps commander would head the investigation team and two majors general will be its members.
The head of the team is reported to have retired last year and it is not clear who has replaced him. The progress on the investigation has also been kept a guarded secret.
The report placed before the PAC disclosed that pension funds of NLC employees were also invested in the volatile stock market by the generals who remained at the helm of affairs during the period.
The most shocking finding of the inquiry was that these generals borrowed Rs2 billion from four banks and threw them into the stock market, losing Rs1.8 billion in the process.
The loans were obtained from Bank Al Falah (Rs650 million), National Bank (Rs90 million), United Bank (Rs800 million) and Allied Bank (Rs500 million).The NLC is still paying commercial interest on the loans.