Post-NICL scandal: In absence of chief, NAB ponders over next move

Meeting held at NAB headquarters to chalk out a plan for the watchdog to investigate its chief.

Asad Kharal November 26, 2013
File photo of NAB Chairman Chaudhry Qamar Zaman. PHOTO: AFP


The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has begun mulling over its next move in compliance with the Supreme Court’s judgment in the multi-billion rupee National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) scandal.

A high-level meeting was held at NAB headquarters in Islamabad on Monday under NAB Deputy Chairman Saeed Ahmed Sangana. Sources familiar with the matter revealed that the prosecutor general, Karim Khan Agha, and other concerned senior functionaries of the watchdog also participated in the meeting, which was specifically held to work out the modalities for the initiation of proceedings against the accused.

The bureau has already sent an application to the Supreme Court for certified copies of the 52-page NICL judgment on November 22, while Sangana asked Agha for recommendations to move ahead.

Sources close to Qamar Zaman Chaudhry said the NAB chairman has gone on leave to ensure the impartiality of the investigation against him.

The participants of the meeting also agreed that cases should not be affected as Chaudhry has delegated powers to the acting chairman under the National Accountability Ordinance 1999.

As many as 237 investigations and 618 inquiries are under way in different regions of NAB, out of a total 2,677 investigations and 4,924 inquiries authorised so far.

Approximately, 133 petitions are pending in the SC, with 28 filed by NAB and 105 by various accused persons. In total 1,923, references are filed in the accountability courts out of which 1,300 are decided and 621 are pending in trial courts, according to data emerging from the meeting.

As formal proceedings in the scam begin, NAB will write to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to hand over all records related to the NICL scandal, along with FIRs and other documents or evidence available.

NAB officials already have significant knowledge about the case, as it was probed by the bureau at its Lahore and Karachi regions as well as Islamabad headquarters before being referred to the FIA.

The Supreme Court, while announcing the verdict in the NICL corruption case on Friday, ordered NAB to initiate proceedings against Chaudhry for allegedly creating hurdles in the investigation process as secretary to ministry of interior.

The court ordered that cases be registered against those who tried to hamper the investigation process of the corruption case, including NAB chairman and Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Abdul Rauf Chaudhry.

The order further stated that the appointment of Ayaz Khan Niazi was also illegal, and instructed the concerned authorities to initiate proceedings against former minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim as well as Nargis Sethi.

Qamar Zaman Chaudhry and Abdul Rauf Chaudhry were facing contempt charges in the NICL case, in which it was alleged that they obstructed the smooth investigation.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2013.


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