After exhausting other options, the government of Punjab has now approached the Supreme Court, federal and the three other provincial governments for the recovery of millions of rupees allegedly embezzled by an advertising agency, M/S Midas – owned by influential businessman Inam Akbar.
The massive scam, involving a whopping Rs632.59 million in fake invoices, was unearthed during an audit of the accounts of Punjab’s director general public relations in the tenure of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) regime.
The Supreme Court is already hearing a petition filed by two prominent journalists, Hamid Mir and Absar Alam, for the formation of accountability commission for journalists, TV anchors, advertising agencies, and media houses. The Punjab government has been made a party in the petition, which has been taken up by a two-member bench of the apex court.
The information and culture department, government of Punjab, wrote a letter on July 31 to the offices of the federal auditor general and accountant general seeking their help in recovering the outstanding amount from the advertising agency owned by influential businessman Inam Akbar. A copy of this letter has been sent to registrar Supreme Court and the registrars of all four high courts as well as the accountants-general of all provinces.
According to the provincial information department, it has been involved in business with Midas from 1996 to 2007-08. During this period, M/S Midas (Pvt) Ltd managed to get fraudulent and bogus payments worth hundreds of millions of rupees from the Punjab government on the basis of fake invoices and in collusion with some public functionaries.
“Special audit of the accounts of DGPR, Punjab for the period of 2006-08 has pointed out glaring misappropriation and irregularities in the accounts of DGPR, Punjab, and total recovery recommended by the audit team for Auditor General of Pakistan to be effected from M/s Midas (Pvt.) Ltd. is Rs632.59 million,” read the letter, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune.
This amount also includes an amount of Rs208.65 million pertaining to the Punjab development funds’ advertisements. The anti-corruption establishment of Punjab is already conducting criminal proceedings against M/S Midas.
While M/S Midas has been blacklisted by Punjab, the provincial government has complained that the agency not only continues to do business with the federal and the three other provincial administrations with impunity, but the owner of Midas, Inam Akbar, is also running operations under the name of other advertising agencies.
The information department said it has exhausted all options to settle the issue with M/S Midas, and those documents have also been sent to the relevant authorities along with this petition. It urged all federal and provincial institutions who are clients of the agency for advertisement and media campaigns to renounce business with the agency and deduct the outstanding funds of the Punjab government which is actually public money.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2012.