ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has decided in ‘principal’ not to make public the names of national and international NGOs allegedly involved in massive corruption in various development projects being run under the Kerry-Lugar Act , The Express Tribune has learnt.
The decision was taken in light of state’s interests to keep the ‘image of transparency and trust’ high which may lure international donors to help Pakistan through NGOs working in areas hit by natural disasters in Pakistan.
Last week, the USAID requested the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to investigate massive corruption allegedly done by national and international NGOs running various projects in volatile areas under the Kerry-Lugar Act.
The Americans, under this Act, have to give $1.5 billion for five years (2010-14) out of the $7.50 billion to NGOs working in Upper and Lower Fata.
NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Syed Deedar Hussain Shah said the NGOs involved in corruption would be dealt with according to the law. USAID on Thursday formally approached NAB, filing complaints of misappropriation of funds by the NGOs being funded under the Kerry-Lugar Act.
A delegation of USAID requested the NAB chairman to investigate billion of rupees corruption as complaints about misuse of funds by the NGOs were multiplying with every passing day.
According to details, officials from NAB Regional Office in Peshawar constituted a special investigation team to probe into affairs of various Americans NGOs as well as into the affairs of local NGOs engaged by the Americans.
“We are already probing into the case of two American NGOs – Academy for Educational Development (AED) and CHF International – engaged by USAID in some of its projects under the ‘Fata Uplift Aid Programme,’” said an official of NAB Peshawar Region on condition of anonymity. “The project costs $750 million,” he added.
“According to initial investigations, these NGOs – AED and CHF including Sheledia worked under CHF International – embezzled $150 million during completion of a road project in upper Fata,” the official said.
Meanwhile, officials of NAB Regional Office in Quetta told The Express Tribune that some complaints were being registered with the bureau office against Pakistan-based NGOs funded by foreign donors. However, the complaints are not related to the Kerry-Lugar Act, he clarified.
Some serious complaints have been registered against local NGOs involved in irregularities working in the flood-hit areas, a senior official of the NAB Regional Office in Lahore told The Express Tribune. But these NGOs are being funded by foreign donors especially by Arab countries, he added.
US Embassy spokesperson Alberto Rodriguez said that he would not comment on the issue because USAID officials reportedly informed NAB about these irregularities. “NAB probably will investigate into corruption charges against NGOs working under the Kerry-Lugar Act,” he said.
Officials of NAB Regional Office in Peshawar also said the major irregularities were being made in Upper Fata comprising Bajaur Agency, Mohmand Agency and Khyber Agency, including Peshawar.
They also revealed that an internal audit of the said NGOs was conducted in October 2009 by the office of the inspector-general USAID where various paras were raised. So, the audit team initiated formal investigation and found that a massive amount of money was embezzled by the NGOs working in volatile areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Well placed sources said the country head of the AED fled to Russia last month to avoid arrest. He was asked to cooperate with the investigation team.
The Express Tribune also tried to contact the officials of the two American NGOs allegedly involved in corruption, but none of them were available for comments as they are temporarily out of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2010.