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July 2, 2013

SC directs FIA to probe Rs40 bn EOBI scam

 
July 2, 2013

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered to bring the looters of the public money to book, directing the Director General of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to probe the alleged Rs40 billion corruption in the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) and submit a report to it within 10 days.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry and Justice Gulzar Ahmed, heard a suo moto case pertaining to the corruption scandal in the EOBI.
The chief justice took notice of the scandal last week and issued notices to the attorney general, secretary Ministry of Human Resource Development, DG FIA, EOBI chairman and former chairman EOBI Zafar Iqbal Gondal to appear before the court on July 1. The court directed the DG FIA to immediately conduct an inquiry into all the 18 transactions made in the instant case admitted by the EOBI secretary.
The court further directed that an investigation must be conducted without any influence or political pressure, as the amount allegedly misappropriated belonged to the taxpayers.The court also directed the secretary interior to strengthen the investigation in the instant case by allowing any official within or outside FIA and take effective measures for completing the probe.
During the hearing, DG FIA Saud Ahmed Mirza informed the court that a case had already been registered in this regard and three persons, including ex-director investment EOBI Wahid Khursheed, Maham Majeed and Col (retd) Ali Hassan Mirza had been arrested.He further said two other men, Muhammad Qasim Pervaiz and Iqbal Daud, had obtained transitory bail.
The DG submitted there were traces leading to the allegation that Zafar Iqbal Gondal got money from the same account that received transaction from the EOBI accounts for the purchase of certain property.
Secretary Human Resource Development (HRD) Abdul Khaliq told the court that a request had been

forwarded to the Ministry of Interior to place Gondal and other accused on the ECL.Abdul Khaliq said he assumed the charge as the secretary in May 2013, as earlier Raja Ahsan was at the helm from 2011 to 2013.
He further told the court when he came to know about other matters, including a contract for construction of a building in Faisalabad that was to cost Rs220 million to EOBI, he stopped all the projects, transactions and ordered an audit.
He submitted that the audit report would be finalised on July 6 determining how the public money was spent.To a query, he said at present the EOBI was working without a chairman. Gondal was transferred on the directive of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the general elections; however, he obtained a stay from the Sindh High Court against his transfer. Later, he relinquished the charge and went back to the parent department — the Auditor General of Pakistan.
Abdul Khaliq admitted the allegations raised by the electronic and print media in the instant case and told the court that 18 dubious transactions pertaining to the purchase of different properties were made at exorbitant rates but the media reported only 11.
During the hearing of a private TV channel present on the court call, he informed the court that he had all the data of allegations levelled against the EOBI chairman and other staff and would furnish it with the court on Tuesday (today). He, however, told the court that he was receiving threatening calls for exposing corruption.
Hearing this, the court directed the secretary interior to provide him with adequate security.At the outset of the hearing, former director Town Planning, Defence Housing Authority DHA, Col (retd) Tariq Kamal alleged that some 400 kanal land near Rawalpindi was handed over to Bahria Town without any financial consideration and the land was later purchased by the EOBI for investment purposes.
Abdul Khaliq, however, told the court that the land measuring 321 kanals was purchased directly from the DHA, Rawalpindi.Later, the court adjourned the hearing till July 12, directing the director general FIA to probe the scam and submit a report within 10 days.

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