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National

May 12, 2018

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Rs3 billion loss in wet lease: FIA again tells PIA BoD to respond by 22nd

ISLAMABAD: Following a suo motu notice by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar into the affairs of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has issued a warning to the Board of Directors (BoD) of the national flag carrier to respond to a pending probe related to Rs 3 billion losses in a planes acquiring deal or get ready to face consequences, The News has learnt.

According to sources, the FIA, as it seeks to speed up the investigation, had sent the fourth notice to the PIA chairman, asking him to take it up with the BoD, making it clear that if they (BoD) didn’t respond by May 22, the matter would be decided ex-parte, assuming that the accused had nothing in their defence.

The FIA Lahore office has been probing the PIA BoD for the last over one year regarding acquiring the planes on Wet Lease at exuberant rates, allegedly causing a loss of around Rs3 billion to PIA.

Earlier, the FIA had written twice to the PIA chairman on October 23, 2017 and November 14, 2017 to get response from the BoD but to no avail. The third notice was served on April 6, 2018. The FIA investigators wanted to record statements of the BoD which had approved the alleged controversial deal of acquiring planes from Sri Lanka for the airlines’ Premier Service on July 13, 2016.

In its initial probe, the FIA has calculated a loss of around Rs 3 billion to the PIA. Through the questionnaire, the FIA has asked the BoD to explain why they had signed the deal when it had been pointed out that the national flag carrier could suffer a huge financial loss on direct operating cost per aircraft every three months.

Due to this deal, the PIA had to suffer a loss of Rs 1.57 billion on an aircraft over a period of three months. A loss of an almost equal amount was suffered when the BoD approved the deal for another term of three months, couple of years back.

Talking to The News on Friday, recently retired Federal Secretary Aviation Division Irfan Elahi, who is still holding the charge of PIA Chairman until the appointment of his successor, said they received response from the majority of the board members. “I will forward all those answers of the BoD to the FIA within a couple of days,” he said.

On the other hand, it is also learnt that former PIA Director Procurement and Logistics Department (retd) Air Commodore Imran Akhtar Khan has not responded to FIA queries regarding the sale of PIA’s aircraft A-310 to Germany for Euros 47,500 even after several notices.

The FIA investigators have written at least twice to its headquarters for taking up the matter with the ministry concerned as by that time, Imran Akhtar was serving in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) but there was no response.

Besides Imran Akhtar, brother of former Inter-Services Intelligence Director General (retd) Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar, PIA’s former acting chief executive officer (CEO) Hildenbrand Bernd is also accused of plane’s sale to Germany.

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