Financial fraud: Responsible officials pass the buck at federal Urdu university

Five university employees involved in opening the bank account were suspended following an inquiry report.


Riazul Haq July 24, 2014

ISLAMABAD:


Since reports emerged of a Rs150 million scam at the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Sciences and Technology (FUUAST) Islamabad campus, top management has spent much of its time passing the buck.


The money was allegedly transferred from a university account to a private account and then ‘invested’ in some private businesses, all of which purportedly happened without coming to the attention of top management.

Five university employees involved in opening the bank account were suspended following an inquiry report.

According to university sources, after learning of the illegal account, VC Dr Zafar Iqbal set up an inquiry committee headed by newly-appointed campus in charge Lt Gen (retired) Shahid Aziz.

The committee found Personal Secretary to the Vice-Chancellor Abdul Rashid Bangash, Accountant Hammad Kayani, Audit Officer Rana Asif, Deputy Registrar Shah Muhammad and another official were involved in opening the new account.

The five employees were suspended immediately, but the VC later reconstituted the committee by removing Aziz for unspecified reasons.

Sources at the university said that Aziz was investigating the issue thoroughly and that the names of senior officials from the university’s Karachi campus had also popped up during the investigation.

University officials requesting anonymity said that senior officials in Karachi did not want names from that campus to be revealed, so another five-member body was constituted headed by Faculty of Engineering Dean Dr Abdul Razzaq Memon. The other members of the new committee include Dr Masood Mashkoor, Dr Mehmood Khan, Dr Nazeer Ahmed and Syed Ibne Ali Jafri.

Money in, money out

The scam surfaced after a university official attempted to shift Rs10 million and was unable to provide bank officials with proof of authorisation.

Under Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue rules, opening a separate account without government authorisation is illegal.

On Tuesday, some university officials started protest against the administration for suspending their colleagues, claiming they were “innocent and just obeying orders of the higher-ups.”

Last week, the branch manager was also summoned by the Gen Aziz-led committee. He denied any role in the transfer of the amount.

A senior teacher at the campus claimed the suspended officials were just used as pawns and the real culprits should be arrested. “High-ups are getting away with the scandal because they verbally ordered the accused officials to open the account and there were no written instructions,” the teacher said.

Another official said that efforts were being made to remove the campus in-charge as he was the one who brought the issue to notice and a further probe could land senior officials in hot water.

The university spokesperson said he was not authorised to comment on the issue, while other senior university officials could not be reached despite several attempts.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2014.

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