Wednesday Mar 13, 2019
ISLAMABAD: More than two dozen accused individuals have become an epicenter of fresh investigation being jointly conducted by members of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and the National Accountability Bureau's Combined Investigation Team (CIT).
In an exercise to put fake accounts’ probe on fast track, the JIT and NAB CIT are jointly working on five different investigations, which are now being converted into multiple references against some 25 key accused most likely by the end of this month, revealed a member of the NAB CIT, who is also closely monitoring the case.
“First investigation is about the illegal lending of Rs24.93 billion beyond the capacity of government owned Sindh Bank to Omni Group and its front companies,” the official said while requesting anonymity. This fresh probe is focusing on directors of Zardari Group and Omni Group, Younus Kudwai, Dr Dinshaw, Asif Qureshi, Abdul Jabbar, Aslam Masood, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah & scores of other accused named in fake accounts case, revealed the official.
The probe teams summoned scores of bureaucrats, both serving and retired, business tycoons and front-men of key accused in the past six weeks and many more would be summoned in coming two weeks, the official disclosed, adding that the NAB submitted its second detailed report on fake accounts with Supreme Court on Monday. The report, prepared and submitted by CIT head Irfan Mangi and examined by DG Operation NAB Zahir Shah, exposed "illegal capturing of institutions & misuse of government funds worth billions of rupees by the key accused", the NAB official further disclosed, adding that half of total 16 references in this case would be filed by March 21, the deadline set by the apex court. For finalisation of rest of references, NAB would seek more time from the court, he added.
“We found misappropriation of huge amounts out of these loans (public money) from a government-owned bank and misuse of authority by scores of public servants, including Murad Ali Shah in his capacity as Finance Minister Sindh along with Bilal Sheikh, president and CEO of Sindh Bank,” claimed another NAB investigator.
“It would most likely be a key NAB case titled 'Rs24.93 billion loans by Sindh Bank to Omni Group',” the official said. “The reference could be filed in illegal use of Sindh Bank for imprudent loans to Omni Group and its front companies — subsequently misappropriated,” he disclosed further.
As per interaction with a few investigators, the second investigation is named as "Park-Lane Parthenon case" wherein former president Asif Ali Zardari would most likely be named the main accused.
Fresh investigation also revealed that Sindh Bank, whose 100 percent proprietary control was with the Government of Sindh through its finance minister, had been involved in disbursing most imprudent loans to Omni Group and its front companies (M/s Rubicon, Alfa Zulu and Seracom Stocks) against the regulations set by the SBP and even beyond its own total equity. In the event of default of Omni Group, not only will the Sindh Bank be totally wiped out with all its equity (Rs16.06 billion) but the Government of Sindh will have to bear additional default of Rs8.87 billion, the investigation revealed.
The JIT and NAB CIT also launched probe into bad loans given to Alfa Zulu Company and M/s Parthenon, etc., the official claimed. “M/s Alfa Zulu is a front company in the name of an employee of Omni Group (Imran Khan). A total outstanding loans of Rs928 million (Sindh Bank Rs804 million and Summit Bank Rs124 million) have been classified as a ‘non-performing’ loans,” revealed another NAB official associated with the investigation. "A project loan of Rs1 billion, disbursed to M/s Rubicon Builders (Pvt) Ltd and loans of Rs700 million and Rs140 million given to M/s Seracom and M/s Parkview Stocks are also being probed by NAB and JIT."
NAB Karachi team is also probing an alleged misappropriation of Rs7.19 billion through government subsidies by Sindh Member Land Utilisation Aftab Memon for Pink Residency, a company allegedly run by Younis Kudwai and Abdul Jabbar, an alleged frontman of Zardari, another investigator revealed. The team is also investigating embezzling funds for revival of sick industrial units by the provincial government. Some Rs1.04 billion subsidised loans for revival of sick industrial units by Government of Sindh were placed in fake accounts, revealed a member of NAB Karachi office. It is also being probed that how the Sindh government, under a program for revival of these units, allocated funds of Rs3.72 billion to Omni Group companies, he added.
The CIT has also started investigation into a complaint from Ameer Ali Jamali, Vice President Sindh Abadgar Board Shaheed Benazir Abad, that around Rs164.43 million were embezzled by officials of ministry of finance and Sindh Abadgar Board. The two probe teams are also investigating an alleged misappropriation of Rs13.6 billion, including Government of Sindh funds, under pledged sugar stocks. An onsite inspection revealed that more than Rs6.3 billion bags of sugar had been misappropriated causing a loss of Rs11.48 billion, added the official.
NAB Karachi is also probing allegedly misappropriated subsidies worth some Rs4 billion given to twenty-eight (28) sugar mills for onward payment to bonafide sugarcane growers for the season 2014-15. "Out of total Rs3.899 billion, subsidies amounting to Rs63.7 million and Rs138.7 million were released for sugarcane-growers of Larr Sugar Mills Pvt. Ltd. and Tando Allah Yar Sugar Mills Pvt. Ltd., respectively. The JIT has also provided evidence to NAB CIT in its final investigation report no-18-b titled “Misappropriation of cane growers’ subsidy,” the investigator said.
The NAB is also probing tailored tractors’ subsidy by Government of Sindh.
The project of 23 package contracts by Sindh finance ministry is also being probed for the construction of water transmission channels, from Left Bank Outfall Drainage to Thar Coal Power Project, commenced in 2012-13 worth Rs9.07 billion, and escalated to Rs40 billion as per last evaluation. Twelve (12) contracts in this project were awarded to eight (08) blue-eyed contractors, who had paid Rs547 million into fake accounts, the investigator said.
The government contractors deposited huge kickbacks (Rs1.32 billion) into fake accounts, whereas the award of energy sector contract to Technomen Kinetics Pvt. Ltd. — a front company involved in ‘hundi’ — is also being probed, the investigators informed.