KARACHI: An accountability court in Karachi has indicted Sindh former information minister Sharjeel Memon, Midas Advertising chief operating officer Inam Akbar, and 10 others for allegedly embezzling almost Rs6 billion in an advertising campaign scam.
On Thursday, Memon and others were presented before the court where the judge read out the allegations against every individual accused. All of the suspects pleaded not guilty. The judge then indicted all 12 present.
Counsels of four of the accused – Inam Akbar, Riaz Munir, Muhammad Hanif and Asim Sikander –also filed objections to the indictment.
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According to the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) reference, an investigation was conducted regarding corruption and corrupt practices in awarding advertisements by Sindh Information Department to television and FM radio channels concerning an awareness campaign.
Between July 2013 and June 2015, an amount of Rs5.76 billion was paid to seven advertising agencies. The reference says Memon illegally approved the release of official advertisements to the electronic media through so-called, pre-qualified advertising agencies without completing the due process.
It reveals that the advertising agencies paid lower prices to TV channels and claimed much higher amounts, even though they were entitled to just 15 per cent as agency commission against the total bill.
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In a previous hearing of the case, NAB had said it investigated corruption and corrupt practices in the award of advertisements and found that the accused acted with the connivance of each other, resulting in losses to the national exchequer.
The PPP leader is also facing a separate reference regarding illegal adjustment and consolidation of hundreds of acres of land in favour of a private housing project.
A NAB team took Memon and his alleged accomplices into custody on Oct 23, 2017, after the Sindh High Court rejected his bail plea in a corruption case.
Following the rejection of his bail application, Memon remained holed up for hours in a courtroom to avoid arrest as his team explored their options, but could not stave off the inevitable for long.
On Nov 25, 2017, the PPP leader filed an appeal in the apex court, challenging the SHC's decision to reject his bail. In his appeal, Memon had said he should be granted bail since NAB does not have any evidence against him and that his arrest was in contradiction with accountability laws.
The appeal for relief was rejected by the Supreme Court on January 2.