The Federal University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST) has suspended five employees for their involvement in misappropriating university funds.
The suspension orders were issued after the employees admitted that they were involved in corruption and had used Rs150 million from the university's Islamabad campus accounts.
The corruption came to surface when the men attempted to withdraw Rs17 million through a pay order to the university's alleged illegal bank account, said a senior FUUAST official while talking The Express Tribune. He added that the account was earlier opened in the university's name at Habib Bank Limited's Shalimar Recording Company branch in Islamabad without fulfilling legal formalities from the university's side.
"On receiving the pay order request, the branch's manager Rana Umair suspected something wrong about a huge transfer in an individual's name and approached the campus incharge, Lt Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz about it," said a senior official of the university. "He denied the authorisation and directed the bank officials to block the transaction."
The initial investigation carried out by Lt Gen (retd) Aziz revealed that around Rs150 million of the university's funds had been deposited from an authorised account in the same bank to an illegal account on July 23, 2013 through collusion of some of the Karachi campus officials.
When the matter was brought to the knowledge of the university's vice-chancellor, Dr Zafar Iqbal, he formed a five-member committee, headed by the varsity's dean of engineering, Dr Abdul Razzaq Memon, to investigate the matter. Lt Gen (r) Aziz, who had started the investigation, was sidelined.
The committee in its report, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, prescribed punitive measures for those involved, and declared that lower-cadre employees were responsible for the corruption. The alleged swindlers were identified as deputy registrar Shah Muhammad, deputy treasurer Asim Bukhari, assistant treasurer Hammad Kayani, accountant Asif Rana and the vice-chancellor's personal staff officer Rasheed Bangash.
Meanwhile, an HBL branch official who wished to remain anonymous told The Express Tribune, that the committee's report was an "attempt to whitewash the crimes of the higher-ups."
"A fraud at such a large scale could not have happened without the collusion of the senior university officials," he said. "The bank acted responsibly in order to save public funds." He added that the alleged illegal bank account was 'illegal' only to the measure that it was not in knowledge of the Islamabad campus incharge; otherwise it was opened in a very legal manner by other officials of the same university.
He suggested that the corruption case needed to be referred to the Federal Investigation Agency in order to expose who was really behind the corruption.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2014.
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