Over 10 officials, including former Director General (DG) Hajj, were arrested on corruption charges by the Federal Investigation Agency on Saturday. Also among the arrested are former Chairman of Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) and four others involved in importing substandard wheat worth millions of rupees in 2008.
According to Online news agency, which was quoting media reports and FIA sources, the FIA arrested former DG Hajj Rao Shakil for his alleged indulgence in widespread corruption during the course of hiring residential buildings for Pakistani pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and inflicting a loss of Rs one billion to national exchequer. A Saudi prince had also recently written a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan in this regard.
Most of the buildings purchased by the Hajj administrators are 5km away from the Haram Sharif, while according to laws, the accommodation should not be more than 2km away. The administration showed the rent to be Saudi Riyal 3,600 (maximum expenditure assigned by Hajj Policy 2010) while the actual fare was Saudi Riyal 2,500.
The parliamentary committee for religious affairs had recommended Shakil’s removal from office and the prime minister had obliged.
In the TCP related scam, a case registered in this regard also nominates another former chairman of TCP Muhammad Saeed Khan, former directors Manzoor Bhatti, Sibtain Moman Naqvi and the commercial attaché in Turkey Yousuf Junaid and director commercial Munawwar Islam.
The corporate crime circle of the FIA had launched a formal investigation on the directions of the federal government in 2009 after the information was received that the TCP had allegedly imported some 230,000 tons of wheat which was later sold at costly prices to the millers for grinding. The wheat was imported from Ukraine in 2009-10 and later sold to some 71 millers for grinding which continued to sell the flour. The FIA raided the TCP office and took the records in custody. The investigations continued for one year during which the FIA sent the samples of the wheat to three authentic laboratories including PCSIR.
The records captured from the TCP offices were scrutinised in detail and statements of present and former employees of the corporation were recorded. The FIA dispatched its confidential report to the interior ministry in July 2010. The report sought permission to register a case against 17 persons including Abdul Malick and Muhammad Saeed Khan, then directors Sibtain Momin Naqvi, Manzoor Bhatti, Yousuf Junaid, director commercial Munawar Islam and the employees of the company involved in pre-shipment inspection. Former chairman Saeed Khan, director commercial Munawar Islam and the former director Yousuf Junaid are still serving while the other officers have retired. Yousuf Junaid is serving in Turkey as commercial attaché.
According to the FIA director general Waseem Ahmad, the TCP had imported sub-standard wheat which was found unsuitable for human consumption. Thousands of people were affected by gastro-enteritis and many other diseases.
The FIA’s director-general told The Express Tribune that a drive to eliminate corruption has started and more raids are being conducted against the big guns involved in corruption. According to sources, the federal interior minister Rehman Malik gave permission in a meeting held on 11 November in Islamabad to register the cases after which the corporate crime circle of the FIA acted on Friday evening
According to the Director FIA Moazzam Jah Ansari the corporate crime circle raided various places in Karachi during the night between Friday and Saturday.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY OUR CORRESPONDENTS
Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2010.
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