Moonis Elahi may have fled the country after his acquittal in the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) case, but some Rs21 million illegally withdrawn from his corporate accounts shortly before his departure have been deposited back in the bank after the Supreme Court issued an ultimatum to two directors of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), The Express Tribune has learnt.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had given three days to the officers to recover the amount from Elahi or reimburse the money from their own pocket to avoid imprisonment on the last hearing of the multi-billion NICL land scam case. The accounts were activated by Zulfiqar Ali, a member of the investigation team, with Director FIA Punjab Waqar Haider’s approval, in the absence of former additional director general FIA Zafar Qureshi, the lead investigator who was disassociated from the enquiry, while Elahi was being prosecuted in a banking court.
The CJP had reprimanded the FIA for flouting the court’s directives and activating Elahi’s accounts without the court’s permission. The apex court had taken suo motu notice of embezzlement in two land deals concluded by NICL, in which the FIA had identified Elahi as one of the offenders for receiving illegal kickbacks.
The two directors activated the accounts without following the required procedure, while the case was pending in court. Since the accounts are case property, the officers should deposit the amount on or before November 18, in view of their request for additional time, according to the court order received by FIA Punjab on Friday, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune.
Qureshi stated in a report presented to the apex court that Rs1.89 million credited to Agro Tractors’ account and Rs18.52 million in At-Tahur’s account were de-frozen after company executives forwarded applications for accessing the money, during the period he was disassociated from the NICL case.
The apex court has also asked the attorney general to obtain certified copies of the October 21 judgment of the banking court which acquitted Elahi due to ‘half-hearted prosecution’ and absence of key witnesses. The hearing was later adjourned till November 24.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2011.