A corruption reference of over Rs83 million was filed in an accountability court on Saturday against seven people accused of defrauding victims of the 2005 earthquake in Abbottabad.
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed the reference against Abbottabad Regional Tax Office Commissioner Asif Haider Orakzai, Upper Division Clerk Muhammad Sadiq, Lower Division Clerk Ali Afsar and civilians Jehangir Hussain, Saifullah, Sardar Muhammad Parvez and Abid Hussain for being involved in issuing fake income tax refunds to earthquake victims.
On the pretext of assisting the affected persons, the accused men allegedly prepared bogus income tax refunds by collecting signed cheques from the victims during 2008-2009 and then embezzled the collected amount, the reference states.
It adds that NAB received several complaints regarding the scam from locals and then started an investigation.
The bank accounts of civilians Jehangir, Saifullah, Sardar and Abid were utilised for the fraud and NAB has arrested four out of the seven accused while the remaining three are still at large, stated the reference.
The commissioner of Abbottabad’s tax office, Asif Haider Orakzai, a BPS-18 official, was arrested on March 25 and produced in an accountability court. Judge Muhammad Ibrahim Khan gave him into NAB’s custody for a 10-day physical remand to continue the investigation. Subsequently, three more people were arrested and upon completion of the enquiry they were sent to Peshawar Central Jail.
On June 24, a division bench of the Peshawar High Court adjourned the hearing of Orakzai’s bail request till next month.
Orakzai’s counsel Muhammad Sattar Khan told the court his client was the final signing authority at the time the income tax refunds were returned but he was not aware of who would be receiving the money.
However, NAB Deputy Prosecutor Muhammad Jamil contended that the accused was well aware of where the money would go. Jamil said the accused does not deserve to be granted bail in a scam in which the public’s money was embezzled.
Separately, the bureau has also filed a second reference of Rs14.6 million against Mardan DSP Rajab Ali.
Ali is accused of accumulating illegal assets while serving in the K-P police on various posts.
On April 19, a NAB official told The Express Tribune that based on the order of former PHC chief justice Dost Muhammad, the bureau started an enquiry against Ali. The investigation disclosed that Ali amassed assets worth over Rs200 million during his stint in Hayatabad, which included prized land and several vehicles. He said the accused had registered the assets under his father and brothers’ names.
Ali is currently imprisoned in Peshawar Central Jail.
Free on bail
Meanwhile, an anti-terrorism court on Saturday released on bail two suspected terrorists who were arrested by Chamkani police on June 30 for allegedly possessing weapons.
Advocate Nasirminallah told the court that his clients Khurram Shehzad and Ghulam Murtaza were held for allegedly possessing three AK-47s, two repeaters, one rifle, two pistols and two fake arms licences.
However, the police failed to produce any evidence to prove that the seized weapons did indeed belong to Shehzad and Murtaza, said the lawyer, adding that the accused should be freed till the completion of the trial.
After hearing the arguments, Judge Syed Asghar Ali Shah released the two men on bail.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2014.