ISLAMABAD: In what appears to be a dramatic twist in the ongoing investigations into the multi-billion-rupee land scam related to the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL), the FIA has invited Transparency International (TI)’s chairman Syed Adil Gilani to join the probe.
On his refusal to travel all the way to Lahore to join the investigation, the FIA has sent Gilani a set of 22 questions to answer.
Apparently trying to save his own skin and perhaps to deflect the attention of investigators from the real culprits who made billions out of the scam the former NICL chairman Ayyaz Khan Niazi has in his confessional statement to the FIA claimed that the TI had quietly offered to get him a clean chit from the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which was hearing a case against the insurance company if he were to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that future business contracts of NICL will go to only those private parties, which would be cleared and recommended by the TI.
Three members of NICL board are also said to have fully substantiated the statement of Niazi that absconding board member, Qasim Amin Dada, himself had brought the secret offer in question from Transparency International.
Acting on this seemingly new turn in the case, Director FIA, Lahore, Zafar Ahmad Qureshi, an officer known for his integrity and competence, contacted Adil Gilani and asked him to join the investigations in Lahore. When Gilani refused to travel to Lahore to join the probe the FIA sent him a list of 22 pertinent questions to answer.
Sources said that once the FIA receives Gilani’s replies, a decision would be taken whether to proceed further in light of the statement of Niazi and three NICL board members, or give a clean chit to Gilani.
Zafar Qureshi is said to be probing every angle of the case and does not want to leave any loopholes in the inquiry report which he is obliged to submit before Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Qureshi has so far recovered Rs2 billion from the Warraich family on account of the land purchase scam and already arrested ten out of the 13 accused named in the case.
When asked by this correspondent whether Adil Gilani was being formally investigated by FIA, an official concerned replied, “yes this is true that Gilani is now being formally investigated by FIA, as when we send questions to someone, it means he/she is being investigated by the Agency before formally being booked in a particular case”.
In the set of 22 questions sent to Gilani, FIA has asked the past history of TI chief; his job history; why was he terminated from his job at Karachi Port Trust; whether he had signed a similar MoU with Pakistan State Oil too which was terminated later; whether he (Gilani) had been getting financial benefits from his clients with whom he used to sign such MoUs; whether he had signed an agreement with Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) to perform the role of a watchdog or he was acting on his own without any formal authority; what methodology he was following to verify facts about any official irregularity taking place in any particular government department and how much staff he had on his strength to dig out those irregularities and what was the qualifications of those who were working for him to dig out financial embezzlements and frauds in government departments; did he ever give any chance to any department to give its version or its side of the story; does he confirm or deny written statements of three NICL board members and its ex-chairman that he had offered them to strike a deal to help them get a clean chit from SC and did he know the absconding Qasim Amin Dada.
Gilani has also been told to give details of all MoUs and agreements he might have signed with government departments, private businesses, and how much financial benefits he was getting as a part of those MoUs and agreements. He has also been asked to give history of TI in Pakistan and its activities.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2010.