ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has initiated scrutiny of the record and collection of the evidence material of Rafi Peer Theater in a corruption scam of $1 million and it will take another six weeks for launching formal investigation in this regard.
According to a NAB senior official, the first phase of the scrutiny has been started for verification of the complaint lodged by USAID and it will take minimum six weeks to collect all the evidence to formally launch the investigation into the case. “Once all the record is scrutinised, the management of Rafi Peer Theatre would also be summoned for the investigation and on its basis, the arrests would also be made,” the official said.
On contact, NAB Spokesman Zafar Iqbal also confirmed that the case was under the scrutiny process.
He explained that at this stage, the evidence and relevant material was being collected from different sources to ascertain whether, on the basis of the material and record, the case could be proceeded as per law or not.
However, he said if the sufficient evidence was collected, the case would enter the next stage and the accused would be probed on the basis of the evidence and even they might be arrested for investigation.
Earlier, according to the NAB senior official, the bureau received the complaint from the USAID through the office of Inspector General USAID two months back against Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop and Pakistan Children’s Television about fraud, forgery and embezzlement of around $1 million from the fund of the USAID projects in Pakistan while procuring video, sound, design and animation equipment through fake entries etc.
The official told ‘The News’ that the USAID also referred the complaint to the US Justice Department before filing the complaint with the NAB.
The NAB official said after receiving the complaint from USAID, the NAB started the evaluation whether this complaint came under its purview or not as USAID and Rafi Peer Theatre were not the government departments.
The official said during the verification of complaint process, it was revealed that the project was part of the “Strategic Objective Grant Agreement” signed by the governments of Pakistan and the United States in August 2002 to provide media support to Pakistan.
The NAB official said that Rafi Peer Theatre and USAID signed an agreement of $23 million. Under the agreement, $13 million was to be provided to Rafi Peer Theatre and the share of Sesame Street of United States was $7 million while remaining $3 million was allocated for cost sharing contribution.
The official said so far the USAID had released $6.3 million but withheld the remaining payment when they detected the fraud, embezzlement, corruption of around $1 million.
Sources in the NAB said according to complaint, the Rafi Peer Theatre had purchased the equipment in non-transparent way without tendering as well as without fair competition and also submitted the false entries.
Under the agreement, the project was supposed to produce 78 Urdu language episodes of PCTV’s flagship television series, “Sim Sim Hamara”
The NAB official said the inquiry had been started under the NAB’s Director General Operations.
The NAB official said once the inquiry was completed and evidence was verified, the reference would be filed in the accountability court.