ISLAMABAD: On the apex court’s orders, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will initiate an investigation into the alleged involvement of its own chief in the “misuse of authority” and for “disrupting investigations into the NICL scandal” this week.
The Supreme Court directed the anti-graft body to initiate investigations on the abovementioned offences against NAB chief Qamar Zaman Chaudhry who served as secretary interior during the multi-billion-rupee National Insurance Company Limited case.
The joint investigation team (JIT) formed by deputy chairman NAB to investigate different aspects of the case against Zaman and other accused is likely to consist of members from police and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will also hand over the reports on the scam to the anti-corruption bureau.
“The police are yet to nominate an officer to assist NAB in the investigations, which will likely happen on Monday,” said a NAB official, adding that the SECP had already nominated its officers.
The FIA has already been asked to transfer the record of the case to NAB, so it can be studied and a strategy for re-investigation devised. “The record pertains to the FIA inquiry into corruption charges and accusations on different individuals in the NICL scandal,” said the officer.
Expected to be headed by DG Operations NAB Zahir Shah, the JIT will carry out a three-pronged investigation into the scandal in light of the court’s orders.
Besides reviewing the FIA’s record of investigation into the corruption, the bureau will launch fresh investigations into two aspects of the case dealing with charges of misuse of authority and creating hindrances in the NICL case by NAB chief, the then secretary interior, Zaman.
“This aspect of the case has not been investigated earlier by the FIA or anyone else,” said the NAB investigator.
Zaman was accused of creating hurdles in the way of the chief investigator of the case at the time, Additional Director General FIA Zafar Qureshi, who was transferred and removed from the case during his tenure as secretary interior.
The court observed in its decision that the transfer of Qureshi changed the results of the investigations and the FIA failed to recover the embezzled public money from the accused.
Following the decision, the NAB chief went on indefinite leave, explaining his absence as a way of “allowing the bureau to carry out fair investigations” against him.
After the completion of the JIT with the inclusion of the police officer, a meeting involving the NAB deputy chief Saeed Ahmed Sargana will decide the course of action for the investigations.
The JIT will kick off investigations by the middle of this week, after the completion of all legal formalities. The investigation team will retrieve and verify official correspondence and records relating to the transfer of former FIA officer Qureshi.
Besides, it will question other officers involved in the development that allegedly affected the NICL scandal investigations in order to ascertain if Zaman had intentionally transferred the FIA chief investigator.
The court in its order had also directed NAB to initiate investigations against present and former top bureaucrats including secretary Economic Affairs Division (EAD) Nargis Sethi, former Principal Secretary to Prime Minister (PSPM) Khushnood Lashari, Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Rauf Chaudhry and former Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim under Section 9 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.
The SCP in its order also directed NAB to recover the amount involved in the scam that FIA failed to recover from the main accused, the then chairman of NICL, Ayyaz Khan Niazi.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2013.