KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency and the National Accountability Bureau have yet to come up with compliance reports regarding action initiated against their respective investigating officers, who “deliberately spared and not implicated” a former chief of the federal anti-graft watchdog despite the court’s directives, it emerged on Sunday.
The federal anti-graft watchdog had booked the chairman of the National Insurance Company Limited Ayaz Khan Niazi with its directors — Mohammad Zahoor, Syed Hur Riahi Gardezi, Zahid Hussain and Amin Qasim Dada — in a scam pertaining to the Rs490 million alleged corruption in the NICL in 2010.
The prosecution alleged that the convicts caused huge financial losses to the national exchequer by purchasing 10 acres in Deh Phihai of Karachi`s Korangi area in August 2009 at Rs90m per acre against the maximum market price of Rs20m.
Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, who was then additional secretary in the ministry of commerce and a member of the NICL’s board of directors, was also booked in the reference filed in 2014. Later, he served as NAB chairman from 2014 to 2017.
In February 2018, accountability court-III judge Dr Sher Bano Karim sentenced former NICL chairman Ayaz Khan Niazi with its five directors to seven-year imprisonment in the present case.
The investigating officers of the prosecuting agencies had deliberately ‘let off’ an ex-NAB chairman in a corruption reference
However, the judge expressed her surprise that the investigation officers of the National Accountability Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency had “deliberately spared” and “not implicated” then member of the board of directors and additional commerce secretary Qamar Zaman Chaudhry in the case.
Therefore, the judge had ordered the then director-general of the FIA and the then chairman of the NAB to take action against their IOs.
In her judgement, Ms Karim observed that an IO was expected to maintain a very high standard of integrity and had to be fair, but in the present case both the IOs of the FIA and NAB had failed to perform their responsibility.
It said the defence counsel had argued that Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, being the then additional secretary of the commerce ministry, was one of the members of the board of the NICL directors.
But the IO, while investigating the matter and preparing the investigation report, had “maliciously excluded him (Mr Chaudhry) from the list of accused persons, whose role [is] at par of the accused persons facing trial before this court”, the court order stated.
The judge had remarked that the “IOs of FIA and NAB have resorted to pick and choose and not implicated Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, who participated in meetings of board of directors of NICL”.
The court’s verdict added: “So also nowhere he (Chaudhry) gave any dissenting note neither disagreed with the decision of the board, but he was not implicated as accused, neither IO justified it, on the contrary IO during cross-examination admitted to have not found any dissenting note of Chaudhry regarding selection of land and price of land.”
The judge remarked that “it is a matter of concern for the authorities as to why the persons prima facie involved in the scam have been left off by the IOs.”
The court had noted: “It is the duty of NAB to ensure indiscriminate action against corrupt persons across the board to establish it credibility amongst the masses, failing which, public exchequer again shall be looted by the unscrupulous persons, who have no interest at all in the well-being of the nation”.
Therefore, the judge had directed its office to send a copy of the judgement to the NAB chairman and FIA DG for information and taking action against the IOs.
Sources confirmed to Dawn that both the federal prosecuting agencies’ chiefs had not filed any report with the court regarding action against their IOs.
“No report has reached the court either on behalf of the DG FIA or the NAB chairman with regard to the action they were directed to take against their IOs over their conducts while investigating the matter and letting off Mr Chaudhry in the present case,” prosecution sources said.
The sources added that apparently it meant that either the court’s judgement had not reached the chiefs of both the federal prosecuting agencies or they had taken no action in compliance with the court’s clear directives given to them.
Later, the Sindh High Court had set aside conviction of Mr Niazi and others in the present case. However, the status regarding action against the IOs remains the same before the trial court, the sources added.