ISLAMABAD: The country’s premier watchdog mandated to check mega-scale malpractices has itself turned into a centre of corruption, bribery and misuse of authority, documents available with Daily Times reveal.
The corrupt mafia has become so strong within the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) that even the top bosses seem helpless to take action against the influential lords, and are instead giving their deeds a ‘cover-up’.
Under ‘mysterious’ circumstances, NAB Acting Chairman Saeed Ahmed Sargana had to withdraw his own complaint forwarded to the Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice, for seeking explanation and taking action against the Bureau’s Rawalpindi Director General Col (r) Subah Sadiq, for his alleged corruption, bribery and misuse of authority.
Documents available with Daily Times reveal that NAB Headquarters received numerous complaints of corrupt practices and misuse of authority by Col (r) Subah Sadiq in several cases including the famous Modarba scandal of Mufti Ehsan-ul-Haq.
As per laws, the FIA is the authority to launch an inquiry on accusations against a government officer. Ironically, the Rawalpindid DG himself formed an inquiry team comprising his subordinates to ‘probe’ allegations against him and got himself cleared of all charges.
But, in a parallel move, the NAB prepared a summary report based on allegations against Col (r) Sadiq and forwarded it to the Ministry of Law and Justice with recommendations to take action against the accused.
“In the absence/non appointment of NAB chairman, neither the deputy chairman nor any other officer is competent to seek explanation from PBS-21 officer, Col (r) Subah Sadiq, NAB Rawalpindi DG. Therefore, a summary report on the allegations levelled against Col (r) Subah Sadiq for alleged acts of misuse of authority and involvement in corrupt practices in different matters along with enclosures is forward for appropriate action. This issues with the approval of deputy chairman NAB,” said the letter No 7/2013/NAB/HQ/01 forwarded by NAB Director General, HRM, Muhammad Altaf Bawany, on Sep 9, 2013, to the Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice.
However, in a U-turn, only three days after the dispatch of the letter, another letter was sent to the ministry on September 12, requesting the secretary to return the previous letter. A source in the Law Ministry told Daily Times that two senior officers visited the then Secretary Law and Justice, Justice (r) Raza Khan and requested for withdrawal of the complaint against the NAB Rawalpindi DG. Justice (r) Raza refused to return the letter without an official request by NAB. “Both the officers returned only to bring a written request from NAB. The file was returned the same day, September 12,” the sources added.
A source in NAB confirmed to Daily Times that the letter had been withdrawn on September 12, 2013, on the direction of the Acting Chairman NAB Saeed Ahmed Sargana, the person who had himself approved the complaint to be sent to the Law and Justice Ministry only three days back.
When contacted, Director General Operations, NAB Headquarters, Zahir Shah confirmed that a letter was written to the Law Ministry for action against Col (r) Subah Sadiq. He also confirmed that the letter was withdrawn after just three days. When asked what forced the NAB to take this U-turn, the DG said he “didn’t know about the reasons behind the withdrawal”.
In the file sent to the Law Ministry, titled ‘Summary on complaints against DG regional NAB’, a copy of which is available with Daily Times, the DG HRM stated young officers of NAB in a complaint have accused Col (r) Subah Sadiq Malik and his associates of corruption and violation of the set rules and regulations of NAB.
The letter points out that in the matter of the arrest of religious scholar and main character of the Modarba scandal, Mufti Ehsan-ul-Haq, and his release after acceptance of voluntary return of only Rs 580 million instead of Rs 9 billion, the DG NAB Rawalpindi had allegedly received a bribe of Rs180 million for providing safe passage to Mufti Ehsan.
The documents reveal that NAB DG accepted the voluntary return of Mufti Ehsan beyond his powers. Mufti Ehsan was involved in illegal Modarba activities, which ran into billions of rupees and a DG-level officer was not competent to accept the voluntary return.
A DG is authorised to accept voluntary return up to Rs 5 million only but Col (r) Sadiq accepted the return of Rs 580 million, an authority that can only be exercised by the NAB chairman, acting chairman or the Executive Board Meeting.
The prosecution division of NAB also pointed out that in this matter the said DG crossed his delegated powers and did not refer the matter to the NAB chairman, which makes the handling of the case suspicious.
Since no chairman was in place when the matter arose (Fasih Bukhari had been removed on the orders of the Supreme Court by that time), the DG Rawalpindi Col (r) Subah Sadiq had no authority to accept the voluntary return (VR) in Mufti Ehsan’s case, especially when DG Rawalpindi and DG Prosecution, Headquarters, had contrary views on the issue.
The matter was also referred to the Prosecutor General Accountability (PGA) for comments, who also opined that the DG has no authority to close the case by approving the voluntary return.
Still the voluntary return was accepted and the case was illegally closed.
In response to counter-arguments by NAB Rawalpindi against the points raised by the Prosecution Division, Muhammad Akbar Tarar, the Additional Prosecutor General Accountability (APGA), wrote in the minute-sheet that it was obvious that an individual was not authorised to run the Modarba business through unauthorised parallel banking system, alone or with a small numbers of employees. He added that the magnitude of loss caused by Mufti Ehsan to the general public (Rs 222 million) and the amount of VR (over Rs 55 million) also speaks for itself.
“As such, it does not fall within the competency of DG NAB (R). The averment of the region that the accused was a Khatib and he entered into a business suddenly has no legs to stand upon. The reiteration of the region on its stance in disregard to the opinion of HQ (NAB Headquarters) is prejudicial and will set a bad precedent. Foregoing in view, I uphold the earlier stance of the Prosecution contained in Para No. 41/N qua the VR in this case is required to be approved by the Chairman NAB (not by DG Rawalpindi),” he wrote.
In his comments, Mr K K Agha, the Prosecutor General of NAB, also endorsed the comments of Mr Tarar and recommended NAB to proceed accordingly.
The complaint also highlighted the ineffective role of DG NAB Rawalpindi in the matter of Elixir Group, which was being handled by the FIA and later transferred to NAB.
The complainant requested for action over alleged corruption by NAB Rawalpindi “so that the organisation could be purged of corrupt elements”.
It is very strange and shocking that a person whose integrity is under question after allegations of corruption and misuse of authority levelled against him by his own institution, is still heading the Rawalpindi Bureau, under which the country’s most important mega scandals such as NICL, OGRA, RPPs, cases of graft against former president Asif Zardari and former prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf are being investigated. The DG looks to be ‘immune’ from any accountability in spite of the fact that the NAB chairman had to go on leave pending an inquiry against him for creating hurdles in the investigation of the NICL scandal.
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