The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) censured the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Thursday for sluggish progress in a million-rupee embezzlement inquiry against Air Marshal (retd) Shahid Hamid and directed the agency to wrap up investigations within 10 days.
Auditors informed the parliamentary watchdog that the FIA was lagging behind in its inquiry against former chief executive officer of Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB), Shahid Hamid, for causing huge losses to the public exchequer by awarding faulty contracts.
Headed by PAC Chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan, the committee also summoned the DG FIA and inquiry officers in the next meeting to explain the hold-up in the two-year-old investigation.
In an internal inquiry, AEDB had held Hamid and Brig (retd) Nasim Ahmad, the then AEDB secretary, responsible for making Rs6.4 million payments in three procurement contracts without actual work, said the director general of federal audit.
The contracts were signed without being vetted by the law ministry, he added.
AEDB referred the inquiry to FIA for further investigations but no action has been taken yet in the case. The auditor observed that referring the case to the FIA was fait accompli (an accomplished fact) and AEDB should initiate appropriate action against those responsible for the loss and irregularities.
The auditor observed that there was a condition of bank guarantees in the bidding contracts which was later replaced with insurance guarantees at the time of signing of the agreement.
The PAC gave general directions to all government departments, barring them from accepting insurance guarantees while observing that bureaucrats had created a lacuna in public contracts for vested interests.
The anti-corruption watchdog also criticised Arif Alauddin, CEO of the AEDB, for not proceeding against former management despite having rock solid evidence.
The CEO maintained that the management was waiting for the outcome of the FIA inquiry to determine whether to proceed against Hamid and his accomplices on criminal charges or financial irregularity charges.
Alauddin added that the government had cancelled Hamid’s contract in February 2008.
According to another inquiry by AEDB, which was not submitted in the PAC, the ex-management also misappropriated Rs19 million in leasing the office building.
An AEDB official, who was among those who conducted the internal inquiry, told The Express Tribune that former officials of the air force and army had embezzled billions of rupees when they were at the helm of affairs, adding that Hamid managed to delay investigations with the help of the then Water and Power Minister and incumbent Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2012.
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