ISLAMABAD: A subcommittee of the Senate’s standing committee on commerce has expressed concern that efforts are being made to manipulate the investigation of the Federal Investigation Agency into the loss of Rs1.045 billion that allegedly occurred during the procurement of land by the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) in Lahore, Karachi and Dubai.
The meeting was co-chaired by Senator Semeen Siddiqui and Senator Haroon Khan and attended by Senator Ishaq Dar, Senator Dr Safder Abbasi and officials from the ministry of commerce.
Senators Dar and Khan said that they learned that efforts are being made by groups with vested interests to include certain officials in the investigation team. The motive is to manipulate the probe, the senators said. Dar said that they also have information that efforts are being made to ensure that some important records about the issue vanish prior to start of the FIA inquiry.
The committee also suggested entering the names of the land owners into the Exit Control List (ECL) and freezing their accounts to bar them from fleeing the country. The names of the NICL Chairman Ayaz Khan Niazi and eight other officials have already been put into the ECL.
Niazi was reportedly the man who struck a deal with the landowners with the approval of the board of directors, duly represented by the ministry of commerce.The committee also took serious notice of the absence of the NICL chairman and board of directors from the meeting.
Earlier, the Punjab Board of Revenue had confirmed that a vast gap existed between the market price of land and the price at which NICL purchased the land. The market price of the purchased land was between Rs312,500 and Rs412,500 per kanal whereas NICL purchased the land at Rs2.1 million per kanal, causing a loss of approximately Rs1.045 billion to national exchequer.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2010.