The Supreme Court has directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to resume the probe into the National Bank Employees’ Welfare Fund scam since there is no justification for halting the inquiry.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry heard the case. During the proceedings, the applicant’s counsel Hashmat Habib informed the court that the FIA has stopped investigating the scam and there has been no further development in the case.
The chief justice said that there was no reason to suspend the investigation in the absence of a stay order. The petition filed by NBP Trade Union Foundation Secretary-General Syed Jahangir under Article 184(3) of the constitution made the finance secretary, director general (DG) and other officials of the FIA respondents in the case.
The petitioner said senior officials misappropriated Rs2 billion from the NBP Employees Welfare Fund which had been set up with contributions from the bank’s profit. He requested the court to order immediate recovery of the money and direct the FIA to take stern action against the culprits.
Jahangir said a complaint was registered in 2009, on the basis of a report by Assistant Director FIA Saifullah Jokhio, who had unearthed approximately Rs600 million and distributed it amongst themselves in the name of achievement awards.
The petitioner said 14 executives rewarded themselves with huge sums of money from 2003 to 2008. He said the accused were so influential that they deferred the registration of the case despite permission from the DG FIA. The court adjourned the hearing for three weeks.
Bank of Punjab recovery panel chief wants to quit
Justice (retd) Jamshed Ali Shah, head of the committee constituted for recovering the loan from the main defaulter of the Rs9 billion Bank of Punjab scam, Sheikh Afzal, has formally requested the Supreme Court to relieve him of the responsibility.
He had earlier informed the apex court in writing that he would like to disassociate himself from the committee due to noncooperation from Sheikh Afzal’s son, Harris Afzal. At the last hearing, counsel for the Bank of Punjab, Khwaja Harris had informed the court that Harris Afzal was not cooperating with the committee scrutinising his assets despite the fact that he had agreed to liquidate them to repay the loan due to which Justice (retd) Jamshed Shah was considering dissociating himself from the case. Khwaja Harris also informed the court that Harris Afzal tried to sell his properties to foreign entities but he was caught red-handed when he sent documents for verification to the Foreign Office which forwarded them to the National Accountability Bureau.
Harris Afzal tendered an unconditional apology through his counsel, Khawaja Tariq and assured the court he would cooperate with the committee. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary granted Tariq more time to resolve outstanding issues with the Bank of Punjab.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2011.