LAHORE: Noose around the ruling party is tightened further when National Accountability Bureau Lahore (NAB) is going to initiate two inquiries related to embezzlement in the procurement of medicines and illegal appointments at Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC).
As part of investigations into the case, a NAB team conducted a raid at PIC and seized record of last four years, an investigator shared with The Express Tribune. A NAB investigation officer told The Express Tribune that the anti-graft watchdog would analyse the record considering in view the complaints of irregularities and embezzlements in appointments, funds allocation, utilisation and procurement.
The investigator officer further added that the investigations into the case were referred to NAB on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP). A complainant Fariha Majeed who had served as a pharmacist on contract basis at the hospital was removed from the service when she refused to approve invoice payments by PIC. She had lodged the complaint before the apex court. The apex court in the order has said, “We have heard the applicant, Dr Sohail Saqlain, Khawaja Hassan, Dr Nadeem Hayat and Afzal Bhatti. We are of the view that in the present case, an independent inquiry is required to be conducted by NAB.”
Punjab Health Minister Khawaja Salman Rafique also appeared before the court in the hearing of the case.
The investigator shared with The Express Tribune that Afzal Bhatti was serving as commissioner Overseas Pakistani Commission Pakistan (Punjab).
At the same time, he was also serving as the head of procurement committee of PIC. In the first inquiry, they would investigate about irregularities in appointments, the procedure of the appointments and the circumstances under which the appointments were made.
In the second inquiry, NAB would analyse PIC funds allocation, utilisation, procurements and companies involved etc.
He pointed out that NAB would look into what was the procedure of procurement of stents and other medicines, their installation to the patients, their standard and companies involved.
Meanwhile, Ahad Khan Cheema along with four other accused was presented before an accountability court. NAB sought his physical remand for another 15 days which was granted. After completing 15 days of physical remand, his custody with NAB will reach to 81 days. According to NAB ordinance, an accused can be remanded maximum for 90 days.
A NAB officer told The Express Tribune that Cheema was arrested for corruption in Ashiana Housing scheme scam, however, during investigations it was revealed that the accused had accumulated assets beyond due means. The officer said the investigations on Ashiana case were pretty much mature and the anti-graft watchdog has got two approvers in the case.
In another development, NAB has arrested five accused in Lahore Parking Company (LePark) embezzlement scam, including the chief executive officer of the company Tasir Ahmed.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2018.