Former president of Bank of Punjab Hamesh Khan (C) who is the main accused in the BoP scam, leaves for the Supreme Court in police custody in Islamabad on May 26, 2010. — AFP
ISLAMABAD The government appointed on Friday Aftab Sultan, an Additional Inspector General of Police (AIGP), Punjab, as the head of a team which will investigate the Bank of Punjab's (BoP) loan scam, which might turn out to be much bigger than the current estimate of Rs9 billion.

Mr Sultan has been given the task for which a former director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and incumbent Secretary of Narcotics Control Division, Tariq Khosa, was nominated by the Supreme Court.

However, on a request from the government, the apex court allowed the government to appoint any person in place of Mr Khosa.

The government on Friday submitted a list of three bureaucrats to the Supreme Court, pleading that it could not spare Mr Khosa for the job. The court accepted the government's plea, allowing it to appoint anyone from the three-member panel in consultation with Mr Khosa.

“We have written a letter to the government of Punjab to requisition the services of Mr Aftab Sultan,” a NAB spokesman said.

Mr Sultan will assist the NAB chairman in investigating the fraud, which is expected to unmask many faces who had obtained loans from the bank but did not pay back.

It is likely that the BoP loan scam might exceed Rs9 billion as an inquiry being conducted against its ex-chief Hamesh Khan unfolds some other frauds committed by the bank's management.

A new case that came to the knowledge of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) related to an ex-provincial minister of Punjab, Mr Raees Munir of PML-Q, who had allegedly taken a loan of Rs120 million from the bank to purchase an immovable property.

Mr Hamesh Khan claimed that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had forced him to pay Rs500 million from the bank and become an approver against Chaudhries of Gujraat.

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