NAB probing 47 cases, files four references

Makes three plea bargains to recover Rs259 million.

Our Correspondent September 15, 2013
Out of 2,000 complaints it has received over the past 15 months, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has authorised investigations into 64 cases. PHOTO: FILE


Out of 2,000 complaints it has received over the past 15 months, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has authorised investigations into 64 cases. On July 1, the bureau’s officials were still busy completing investigations into 47 of these cases.

According to NAB, the investigators managed to send references to accountability courts in only four cases while they recovered Rs259.2 million in three plea bargains (PB). Ten cases were closed.

The chief cause among multiple reasons for delay in investigations, a NAB official said, was external monitoring of under probe cases by other institutions such as the Supreme Court.

“External monitoring by the court not only interferes and upsets the course of investigations, it engages the investigation officer in too frequent court appearances,” said a NAB investigation officer.

He added the court sometimes changes the entire course of investigations besides affecting the momentum of the probe.

The other main cause of pendency was shortage of quality investigation officers in the bureau. At present, at least 88 officers were engaged in inquiries into different complaints. Over 60 officers were involved in 47 on-going investigations.

From April 2012 to July 2013, NAB received 2014 complaints. After verification, the bureau authorised inquiries into 156 cases. At the inquiry stage, NAB managed to recover Rs3.2 billion in voluntary return (VR) in two cases. According to NAB rules, if a suspect agrees to return the embezzled money at inquiry stage it is made under VR.

After the inquiry is converted into investigation, the accused can only return the embezzled amount through PB which involves court. NAB closed 55 inquiries while 11 were converted into investigations in a year.

Another NAB officer attributed pressure from government officials and non-cooperation from certain public institutions as the biggest reason for delay in completion of inquiries and investigations.

The recent case of the ex-chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) Tauqeer Sadiq was just one example where the NAB investigation officers were not only pressurised by the former government, other law enforcement agencies were not willing to cooperate too.

“NAB officers face interference from the government officials who try to influence the cases,” said the officer. The Rental Power Projects (RPPs) case was another example where the accused could not be arrested due to influence and political manipulation. More than 20 officers were engaged in over a dozen RPP cases.

Commenting on fewer references filed in accountability courts during the 15 months, the officer said filing a reference was the last stage in lengthy process of probe into corruption allegations. First, the NAB attempts to get the public money recovered through VR. Further efforts are made to recover money through PB at investigations stage.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2013.


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