NAB begins probe into key appointments in ZTBL

The Nation

LAHORE – The National Accountability Bureau has launched investigation into hundreds of illegal appointments made in the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited in recent years.

A large number of senior officers including Executive Presidents and Senior Vice Presidents are among the illegal appointees hired on hefty salary packages during the tenure of previous PML-N government. Presently, they are serving on key administrative posts in different offices of the ZTBL.

The anti-graft authority ordered initial inquiry into the bogus staffing scandal after some officers of the state-run bank submitted complaints of corruption against the top management including ZTBL President Talat Mahmood, who was fired recently. Former President Talat Mahmood, by misusing his authority, had recruited at least 1200 officers including several “executives” on top positions in sheer violation of the recruitment policy of the bank.

According to official documents (submitted to NAB and available with The Nation), the Director General Commercial Audit had submitted a similar complaint to the Federal Investigation Agency in 2016 but the matter was hushed up due to the influence of the then President Talat Mahmood.

Also, the bank administration had stopped further proceedings on the complaint and refused to take any action against those responsible for making illegal appointments on key positions.

Most interestingly, Abdul Qayyum Sukhera, a close relative of former Punjab IGP Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera was recruited as Senior Vice President of the ZTBL despite

the fact that he holds Masters Degree in Political Science. Presently, Qayyum Sukhera has been serving as Zonal Chief ZTBL, Sahiwal Region.

The NAB authorities were also informed that most of the bank’s operations including the HR and Field Operations were being controlled by so-called executives who were hired in the bank due to their political connections.

These officers including Eexecutive Vice Presidents, Senior Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Assistant Vice Presidents were receiving salaries up to Rs 600,000 per month in addition to latest model cars and other perks.

Mian Wajid, Secretary General of the All Pakistan ZTBL Officers Association, confirmed to The Nation that the investigations were ordered by the authority after some officers of the bank brought the matter into the notice of NAB Chairman Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal and submitted documents with the NAB to expose the large-scale staffing scandal.

Since the illegal appointments were made on large-scale, it directly comes under the preview of public interest, he said.

Therefore, we submitted documents before NAB for a formal probe into the pending inquiries for misuse of authority in recruitments in ZTBL,he said. The Human Resource Division of the ZTBL had also pointed out irregularities in appointment as Executive Vice President in a letter No 18400 dated 20-11-18. A couple of months ago, the PTI-led government had terminated the services of ZTBL President Talat Mahmood after one of the complainants Muntazir Mehdi questioned his appointment on various grounds.

According to another document, Mr Mehdi had asked the authority to take appropriate action besides pointing out this matter in the meeting of the Public Accounts Committee.

“Please keep this letter secret and get investigations on the contents of this letter by the audit party. If these allegations proved to be correct, take immediate and appropriate action,” he pleaded.

On the other hand, the ZTBL Employees Association also approached the Supreme Court of Pakistan and demanded a high-level NAB inquiry into the fake staffing scam. They also prayed for the recovery of salaries and other perks from those who sneaked into the leading bank by using political influence.

An official when contacted said that the NAB had launched investigation into the illegal appointments in ZTBL and the arrests of the accused persons are expected within weeks.

He said that the investigation wing of the authority was probing into the matter to bring the culprits to justice and to recover the looted money from them.

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