While a British court sentenced four Pakistanis in the cricket spot-fixing scandal, more absconding Pakistanis have gathered in the UK who are accused of involvement in the circuitous National Insurance Company Limited scam.
The last main accused in the NICL case, former minister of state for defence production Habibullah Warraich, a retired major of the Pakistan Army, left the country on November 3, 2011.
According to records of the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) installed
at airports, Warraich left via the Lahore Airport on Pakistan International Airlines flight PK-757.
In February, Warraich was granted bail by the Lahore High Court but could not leave the country as his name was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL). However, on November 2, the interior ministry granted him one-time permission to travel abroad. “Warraich has been allowed one-time permission to go abroad for a period of 90 days from the date of departure,” reads the ministry’s letter.
The four other accused who are already present in the UK are former directors of the NICL board Ameen Qasim Dada and Muhammad Javed Syed, principal accused Mohsin Warraich [Habibullah’s son] who received Rs2.75 billion in the scam, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid leader Chaudhry Moonis Elahi. Moonis’ name also appears on the ECL, but the interior ministry had allowed him a one-time trip.
Three more alleged accused, Habibullah’s wife Zahida Parveen and his daughters Maryam and Mehreen, left the country from the Karachi airport on September 6 despite the fact that their names are on the ECL.
Some Rs420 million is yet to be recovered in the NICL scam, according to the FIA. Among the 15 accused who had been arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) were Moonis, former NICL chairperson Ayaz Khan Niazi, NICL board member Syed Hur Riahi Gardezi, former chief financial officer Muhammad Zahoor, general manager Ijaz Ahmed Sheikh, general manager audits Syed Ali Athar Naqvi, general manager real estate Syed Zahid Hussain, Lahore executive director Ayub Butt, PFL directors Habibullah and Akram Warraich, SA Associates managing director Muhammad Imran Siddique, Moonis’ company’s manager Muhammad Malik, Allied Bank of Pakistan Lahore Airport Road branch manager Rizwan Ali Bhatti and ABL Multan Road Lahore branch manager Khalil Ahmed.
Ten of them have been released on bail while Moonis has been acquitted in two cases. Ironically, Muhammad Malik, the two ABL branch managers and Niazi are still in jail.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2011.