ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday reprimanded officials from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for not complying with its orders.
A three-judge bench heard two separate cases of financial misappropriation: one pertains to the illegal appointment of former chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) Tauqir Sadiq, who has been implicated by NAB in an Rs83 billion scam – the second case is related to the disbursement of special bonuses by the National bank of Pakistan (NBP).
The bench maintained that NAB officials were given more than three weeks to implement the court’s orders but failed to do so. “NAB Chairman Fasih Bukhari is flouting the Supreme Court’s orders,” said Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
On November 25 last year, the court had declared the appointment of Tauqir Sadiq illegal. It had ordered NAB to investigate corruption cases against him and granted officials 45 days to submit their findings.
During the hearing on Monday, the court expressed concern over the absence of Sadiq and said he would have to appear before the court if he wanted to defend himself.
Sadiq’s counsel, Dr Abdul Basit maintained that his client was in the United States, but would appear before the court if he was ordered to do so. After the chief justice and Dr Basit went back and forth about Sadiq’s status of ‘fugitive’, the bench barred the latter from presenting further arguments on the issue.
NAB’s Additional Prosecutor General Fauzi Zafar told the court that Sadiq had left the country despite his name being on the exit control list (ECL).
If Sadiq did actually escape with Rs83 billion, it must have been in connivance with NAB or FIA officials, who failed to arrest him, Dr Basit shot back.
The chief justice asked Dr Basit how he could present credentials (Wakalat Naama) on behalf of an absconder.
“If Sadiq left for New York 20 days ago, how can you submit a Wakalat Namaa in advance?" said Justice Chaudhry, implying that the Pakistan Bar Council could take action against him for “professional misconduct”.
The court had also earlier asked NAB Chairman Fasih Bokhari to submit a concise report duly signed by him on the efforts the authority was making to recover the misappropriated amount and the action it was planning to take against those involved.
NAB did present its report, but the court maintained the chairman did not even go through it and just signed it blindly.
The report mentioned how the decision to increase the limit of unaccounted for gas losses from 5 to 7% by Ogra set the national kitty back by Rs44 billion.
The NBP case involves misappropriation of Rs2 billion which the bank paid as Achievement Awards to 16 executive officers after it was informed by the FIA that a charge sheet had been prepared against the recipients.
NAB’s prosecutor Fauzi Zafar told the bench there were a total of 4,000 recipients of the awards. The court asked him about a report over the FIA delaying investigations and expressed displeasure over the lack of progress in the case.
FIA Director (Legal) Azam Khan maintained over Rs20 billion was given under the achievement awards and the disbursement was illegal. He attributed the delay in investigations to the tedious inquiry process.
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