Friday October 07, 2022

PAC seeks details of NAB officials’ assets

June 08, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday sought details of assets of all the officials and director generals of the National Accountability Bureau and directed the bureau to make these public through the media within one month. The Public Accounts Committee ordered that the assets details of NAB officers, directors and director generals and their children, siblings and parents be declared and also asked for details of salaries and perks, privileges and benefits of NAB officers.

The meeting of the Public Accounts Committee was held under Chairman Noor Alam Khan in which the NAB was summoned to give a briefing on the recoveries made by it since its inception here on Tuesday. It was the first meeting of the Public Accounts Committee after electing Noor Alam Khan as the chairman of PAC.

As the post of the chairman NAB is vacant after Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal relinquished the charge of the office on completion of tenure, Deputy Chairman NAB Zahir Shah, who is the acting chairman NAB, attended the meeting.

Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan directed that an audit of NAB's claim of over Rs820 billion be made. Noor said that now accountability will also be held of those accountable, details of vehicles and concessions used by NAB officials should also be given. He remarked that accepting gifts by NAB officials was also corruption and if an officer was not morally good, then he should also be held accountable.

Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan also ordered a full audit of NAB recoveries and deposits of funds and also asked the Auditor General of Pakistan for a complete audit of NAB's bank account. He said any institution that would take even a penny from the government would be audited.

While ordering the NAB to declare the assets of NAB officers, their children, siblings and parents, he said the questionnaire that the NAB sends to other accused should also be sent to all close relatives of NAB officials.

Acting Chairman NAB Zahir Shah said that all the officers of NAB regularly submit statements of assets. The PAC also sought details from Acting Chairman NAB Zahir Shah with regard of plea bargain made by the Eden Housing Scheme with the bureau.

On the inquiry of chairman PAC, the Auditor General said that NAB was audited. The DG Federal Audit said that this time, a comprehensive audit of NAB had been conducted and its report submitted to the PAC. PAC member Senator Saleem Mandviwala said that ex-chairman NAB continued to claim that Rs820 billion had been recovered so far but according to the Ministry of Finance, only Rs15 billion had been deposited in the national treasury.

Acting NAB Chairman Zahir Shah said that there were three types of recoveries and private recoveries were paid to the affected party. “We have an account with the National Bank and can audit it whenever you want,” he told the committee. He said that till 2008, all recoveries were deposited in the Federal Consolidated Fund but then the law changed. “All the money is in the current account and we want the government or the concerned party to get profit on this money. The NAB did not spend a single rupee from this account,” he told the committee. He added indirect recovery means that the property of the accused was confiscated. He informed the PAC that Mushtaq Raisani's properties worth Rs3 billion had been handed over to the Balochistan government.

He told the committee that the budget for the NAB was provided by the federal government, which was regularly audited. He told the committee that the confiscated property in Islamabad will also be handed over to the Cabinet Division under the law.

The Auditor General of Pakistan said that an audit report had been submitted to the PAC based on audit concerns and this report be examined by the PAC, keeping in view the concerns raised in the report.

Acting chairman NAB Zahir Shah said that recovered money was kept in an account in the Prime Minister's Secretariat and the money was kept in the office fund until the case of a party was finalised. He told the committee there were still a few billion rupees in the bank and the NAB was ready for an audit. The chairman PAC said that whatever recovery is made, it will be audited.

Acting Chairman NAB Zahir Shah further told the committee that direct and indirect recoveries were made and the Auditor General can audit the NAB accounts whenever he wanted. He said that billions of rupees were given to sponsors in Karachi's private housing scheme. He told the committee that the NAB recovered stolen wheat worth millions of rupees from Sukkur.

PAC member Senator Shibli Faraz of the PTI asked what would be the status of NAB after changes being made in the NAB law and whether NAB will be able to act independently. Acting Chairman NAB Zahir Shah said that NAB has to abide by the law. “The NAB has no authority to question the legislation,” he said.

Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan said that the NAB did not seek to apologise to anyone for not proving the case. If Shibli Faraz has to talk about legislation, he should do it in the Senate or the National Assembly. He said it was the task of the institution to stop corruption, it should not make case against those who were not in power and also should not seek political revenge from those who are not in the government.

During the meeting, DG NAB Karachi exchanged hot words with Noor Alam Khan on filling up forms by NAB employees. DG NAB Karachi was of the view that that the questionnaire which PAC was asking to fill up was for sending for interrogation of accused. “Officers will be humiliated and reputation will be affected, “ he said.

Chairman PAC Noor Alam said that NAB also asks politicians to fill this form. “Don't they have honor,” he said. He said if they ask about schooling of my children, my watch and guns, then we also ask the same questions from the NAB. Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan asked what was done when nothing was found in an inquiry on an anonymous request.

The acting chairman NAB replied that the law states that the anonymous petition calls for an inquiry. Senator Shibli Faraz of the PTI asked whether the case of chairman PAC was not closed yet. The acting chairman replied that the case against the chairman PAC had not been closed. Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan remarked that the NAB kept with itself cases of humiliation and political revenge but no one asked those who committed corruption. Senator Shibli Faraz remarked that the chairman against whom an inquiry was going on was seeking clarification from them.

The chairman PAC said the NAB was holding an inquiry on anonymous application for the last one and a half years. Senator Salim Mandviwalla said the NAB has been investigating him for two years but he has not made any plea bargain with them.

The NAB chairman in briefing to the PAC stated the NAB has recovered more than Rs58 billion in different periods till November 2021 and December 2021 and this includes plea bargain, property and cash recoveries.

PAC member Syed Hussain Tariq suggested that the problem would be solved if these recoveries were audited and verified. The PAC directed the auditor general to audit and verify these recoveries.