The head of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Friday has authorised an inquiry into a deal between Defence Housing Authority Islamabad (DHA) and Bahria Town (BT) in which over 150,000 people, including 41,000 soldiers, were swindled out of a collective Rs200 billion.
The inquiry was secretly closed for two months by the Rawalpindi chapter of NAB, even after the matter was referred by the Supreme Court, The Express Tribune has learned.
NAB Chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari has expressed serious concern over the closure of the inquiry.
“The inquiry includes allegations of the illegal adjustment of 2,107 acres of land meant for the proposed Dadhocha Dam, illegal resale of DHA Phase II extension site to DHA Valley and the illegal extension of DHA Phase II extension area,” NAB spokesman Zafar Iqbal told The Express Tribune.
Bokhari called for an immediate and transparent inquiry into the scam. He also directed the NAB chief in Rawalpindi to find out why no further action was recommended for the complaint, according to NAB officials.
The complaint was lodged by the former director engineering DHA, Colonel (retd) Muhammad Tariq Kamal to the NAB headquarters in Islamabad which was then referred to NAB Rawalpindi through a cover letter titled “complaints against the management DHA-I, BT and others,” documents revealed.
On January 8, 2011 the Supreme Court referred the matter to NAB to be investigated and also sought the report from the Punjab government in the matter, according to documents. Earlier, the NAB in Rawalpindi had closed the inquiry following an executive board meeting.
The NAB report say that DHA authorities had purchased 3,718 acres of land in 2003 from private owners, including the 2,107 acres of the Dadhocha Dam site. In 2006, the DHA authorities told the district government of Rawalpindi that the site would be used for dam construction to meet water needs of DHA members. Afterwards, the DHA inked an agreement with BT for development of a housing scheme on its own terms and conditions.
DHA quietly transferred all the funds received from the public, amounting to over Rs200 billion to the account of BT CEO Malik Riaz. As per their agreements, DHA is bound to transfer the amounts to the accounts of BT within 72 hours, Kamal revealed.
Those who deposited money for plots were deliberately kept in the dark about the agreements between that DHA and BT regarding land development. Up to Rs27,750 million collected by the DHA from its members between July 2003 and June 2007 was spent on land, but the authority has yet to deliver a single plot.
DHA and Bahria Town chief Malik Riaz inked controversial agreements according to which he was entrusted to develop all the 21, 686 acres of land owned by DHA.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2012.