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Friday June 14, 2024

FIA books 11 for causing Rs124.96m loss to exchequer

Matter submitted to the Ministry of Information for approval through an investigation by a forensic agency to ascertain facts

By Mehtab Haider
June 10, 2024
The Federal Investigation Agency logo can be seen outside the FIA building in Islamabad. — FIA Website/File
The Federal Investigation Agency logo can be seen outside the FIA building in Islamabad. — FIA Website/File

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency has registered a first information report (FIR) against 11 persons, including private contractors as well as officials of the state-owned news agency, for their alleged involvement in corruption.

An inquiry was launched on the orders of the MD Associated Press of Pakistan Corporation (APPC) by establishing a fact-finding committee which allegedly found massive flagrant irregularities in the procurement process of one of the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) projects for modernising the equipment of the sole official news agency known as APP in the country.

The matter was submitted to the Ministry of Information for approval of through investigation by a forensic agency to ascertain facts.

The Secretary of Information approved and forwarded the case to FIA.

The fact-finding committee and subsequently Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) have found alleged massive corruption in the affairs of the official news agency--- Associated Press of Pakistan Corporation (APPC) -- which caused a loss to the national exchequer to the tune of Rs124.96 million.

Interestingly, the Fact-Finding Committee wrote in its report that the illegality was first noticed when the incumbent MD APP found that the Manager of Accounts had managed to appoint his son in Grade III on regular pay without the approval of the competent authority.

The HR section was inquired to examine whether approval of MD was obtained before the appointment. The HR Section verified that the manager’s son was attending the office regularly but failed to produce personal file. It triggered whole investigations and finally unearthed more shocking details.

Official documents having inquiry report and FIR registered by FIA found that incumbent Managing Director Asim Kichi played the role of whistle-blower and initiated an inquiry into the utilisation of development funds in the APP. Now the FIA stated in its FIR that consequent upon inquiry number 169/2023 initiated upon the complaint of Mohammad Asim Khichi, Managing Director of Associated Press of Pakistan Corporation (APPC), it has been established that loss to the tune of Rs124.96 million has been caused to public exchequer by the Procurement Committee of APCC in collusion with four contractors in violation of the procurement procedure in the project namely “Restructuring of New Operation by replacing Outdated equipment with modern cutting edge technology”.

During the inquiry, three members of the procurement committee were allegedly found involved in the illegal award of a contract of Rs113 million to a company by awarding the pre-fabricated studio contract even though the financial proposal was not approved by the competent authority (the MD), which is evident from the minutes of eighth meeting of Procurement Committee, the FIR states.

The FIA also found that the procurement committee managed to prepare fake/forged minutes of the eighth meeting to facilitate the company for clearance of their bills from AGPR for their gains. The FIA has registered an FIR against 11 persons including the officials of the agency as well as the companies’ owners and officials.