Rs1 billion recovered in BoP and housing scheme scams

Source: Published in Current Affairs on Thursday, May 15, 2014

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has recovered over Rs1 billion from the accused in two scams – Bank of Punjab (BoP) and Capital Builders Housing Scheme (CBHS), inside sources told Dawn on Wednesday.

The amount will be distributed to the people affected by the scams by cheques on Thursday.

“NAB Rawalpindi, which recovered the looted amount from the accused, has arranged a function to distribute cheques to the victims on Thursday,” NAB’s public relations officer Mohammad Irfan said.

The total amount embezzled in the BoP scandal is said to be over Rs8 billion. Under the CBHS, launched in 2005 in Islamabad, 3,000 plots were booked against a tract of land measuring 305 kanals.

The NAB official said that cheques would also be handed over to those affected by some other fraud cases.

In the BoP case, the NAB made a plea bargain deal with the owner of Harris Steel Mills (HSM), who had reportedly borrowed billions of rupees from the bank. He did not return the money, depriving the bank’s shareholders and clients of their hard earned money.

A NAB spokesman said a plea bargain deal was signed with HSM owner Sheikh Mohammed Afzal under Section 25 of the NAB Ordinance-1999.

The sources said under the deal approved by the NAB on Dec 24, 2013, the plea-bargain request of Sheikh Afzal had been accepted for Rs8.404bn, declaring that Rs3.667bn stood received while Rs4.737b is to be paid by him in five years in 10 half-yearly instalments of Rs473.7 million each. The first instalment will be paid by him six months after his release from jail.

As regards the CBHS, the official said it would be the second phase of cheques’ distribution among the scam victims. In the first phase in January, cheques worth Rs138.67m were distributed.

CBHS chief executive Chaudhry Tasadduq Pervez, the principal accused, along with others launched the “New Islamabad Garden” housing scheme in Sector C-17 of Islamabad. The accused allegedly booked more than 3,000 plots in the year 2005 without obtaining the no-objection certificate from the Capital Development Authority whereas the company owned only 305 Kanals of land at the time of the booking of plots. Later, it purchased different tracts of land measuring more than 1,800 kanals in Rawalpindi and Islamabad through the money collected from the general public.

The accused took huge amount from applicants with the promise to give them developed plots. But neither they provided plots nor refunded money to the applicants. Rather, the official said, the amount was misappropriated.

In order to avoid legal proceedings and arrest by NAB, Chaudhry Tasadduq came forward and sought plea bargain. The request was accepted by the NAB and approved by the Accountability Court Islamabad in July 2013.

The accused paid Rs138.67m under the agreement against the claims of about 424 people filed with the NAB. The payment to the affected has been divided into two phases. In the first phase, 30 victims were refunded their claims by pay orders.

In the second phase, 375 claims amounting to Rs120m were received by the NAB.

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