ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Punjab chapter informed the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Commerce on Monday that most of the bureaucrats said to be involved in the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) scandal have either been set free or have fled the country.
The FIA’s latest report was submitted to the NA committee a day before the Supreme Court resumes hearing on the scam on Tuesday (today).
During the NA panel’s meeting, MNAs Yasmeen Rehman of the PPP and Kashmala Tariq of the PML-Q Likeminded along with others questioned the role of bureaucrats in the scam and asked officials concerned about action taken against them.
Officials from the ministry of commerce, NICL and FIA replied by saying all key suspects had left the country.
“We were told these officials were ‘censured’: a reply that does not qualify to be accepted,” said a member of the NA committee.
The panel also raised concerns over how then commerce secretary has been absolved from the saga. The committee members maintained that being the principal accounting officer, it was his responsibility to point out discrepancies and asked why the report had failed to mention his role.
“We said the matter falls under the domain of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), but ironically, the commerce secretary is also on SECP’s board of directors,” said another participant who appeared visibly displeased with the case’s progress.
Some members also expressed dissatisfaction over the decision of Khurram Dastagir of the PML-N, who also heads the NA committee, to abruptly cancel the panel’s second day meeting.
According to the inquiry report, Rs1.68 billion was paid to former minister of state Habibullah Warraich for 803 kanals of land in Moza Toor Warraich, Lahore. It is said the market value of the land was Rs0.2 million per kanal, but was purchased by NICL at an exorbitant rate of Rs2.1 million per kanal.
The report identifies 17 accused, including the chairman of NICL’s board of directors Ayaz Khan Niazi, another director on the board Naveed Zaidi, chief financial officer M Zahoor, general manager (law) Ijaz Ahmed Sheikh, general manager (audit) Syed Ali and general manager (real estate) Zahid Hussain amongst others. All of the mentioned have managed to secure bails.
The FIA’s report, which was compiled on June 26, names three other key suspects including two board directors of NICL Muhammad Javed Syed and Ameen Qasim Dada, and M/s Privilege Farms CEO Mohsin Habib Warraich. It added that the men had escaped to the UK.
In another transaction, NICL purchased a commercial plot of 20.2 kanals from Mohsin Warraich in 2009, also at an exorbitant sum. The report said NICL’s management purchased this plot for Rs1.06 billion against its market value of Rs150 million.
The report not only highlights the alleged involvement of Moonis Elahi, but also provides documentary evidence on how Mohsin Warraich transferred around Rs220 million to bank accounts opened under fictitious names by Elahi. It also mentions the overseas bank accounts of Warraich, Elahi and their wives.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2012.