ISLAMABAD – National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal said yesterday that the Bureau recovered Rs30 billion in last 19 months.
Chairing a meeting to review overall performance of the Bureau at NAB headquarters, the NAB chairman said logical conclusion of mega corruption white collar cases was the top most priority of NAB. He said NAB was committed to root out corruption in all its forms and manifestations with iron hands.
He said NAB, since its inception, had received about 1,56,858 complaints from individuals and private/ public organisations. During this period, NAB filed 1,249 corruption references in respective accountability courts and recovered approximately Rs326 billion. The figures of complaints, inquiries and investigations are almost double as compared to the same period of 2018 to 2019.
The comparative figures for the latest 19 months are indicative of the hard work being put in by all ranks of NAB staff in an atmosphere of renewed energy and dynamism, where fight against corruption is being taken as a national duty. Increase in the number of complaints also reflects enhanced public trust in the anti-graft watchdog.
Logical conclusion of white collar cases top most priority
He said NAB’s prime focus was on cases of cheating public at large by fraudulent financial companies, money laundering, bank frauds, willful bank loan defaults, misuse of authority and embezzlement of state funds by government servants.
The chairman said that NAB had established forensic science lab which had facilities of digital forensics, questioned documents and fingerprint analysis. He said that reputed national and international organizations like PILDAT, Mishal Pakistan, Transparency International and World Economic Forum had indicated Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate corruption. Similarly, Gilani and Gallop survey indicated that 59 percent people of Pakistan had shown confidence in NAB.
The NAB chairman said that Bureau had prescribed 10 month-time for disposal of cases which comprised two months for complaint verification, four months for inquiry and four months for investigation. The NAB chairman directed all DGs that all complaint verifications, inquiries and investigations may be completed as per already prescribed time period and SOP, and if needed, approval of competent authority be sought for further extension in time frame by giving logical reasons as per law.
Agencies add: According to NAB source, the main aim of establishing the anti-graft watchdog was to eliminate the menace of corruption, recovered the looted amount and deposit it into the national exchequer.
The incumbent chairman immediately, after taking over the coveted responsibilities, had given clear slogan of ‘Accountability for All’ and ‘Faith of NAB –Corruption-Free Pakistan’ and transformed the anti-graft watchdog a reliable and authentic institution. Supreme Court handed over investigations of Panama Papers, 56 Punjab public limited companies, 435 offshore companies and fake accounts case to NAB.
The chairman introduced numerous reforms in the Bureau. Resultantly, 640 culprits were apprehended, 610 corruption references were filed against corrupt elements during the tenure of incumbent chairman. Right now 1,210 corruption references involving Rs 900 billion were at different stages of hearing at various accountability courts.
He said NAB had become a role model for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries. Pakistan was the first chairman of SAARC Anti Corruption Forum. NAB has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China for elimination of corruption.
He said chairman had introduced standard Grading System in Bureau for evaluating annual performance of its officers. The regional staff is regularly conveyed about the merits and demerits of their performances but also told to overcome their shortcomings. An effective monitoring and evaluation system have also been introduced in NAB for improving its workings.
NAB had fixed 10-month time to complete the process right from initiating the investigations to filing a reference against the suspect. The conviction ratio of NAB was 70 percent last year.
NAB has reinvigorated its prosecution and operation divisions by appointing new law officers. NAB has computerized the complaints and devised a mechanism to inform the complainants about the current status of their complaints.
NAB has arrested 43 accused allegedly involved in Mudarba and Muskarka scams and standing them in the dock. Some cases have already been decided by the relevant courts. NAB has returned over Rs 200 million to affectees of various fake housing societies.
Chairman, regional heads hold open courts separately on the last Thursday of every month. So far over 4,000 complainants had lodged complaints with chairman. The chairman has convened 25 executive board meetings authorising complaint verifications, inquiries. The NAB was using all resources to eliminate corruption from the country. NAB received 40,156 applications for Muzarba and Mukharka scams, arrested 44 persons and recovered Rs 616 million looted amount.
NAB has also recovered 6,000 Kanal Land, 10 houses, 12 precious vehicles, besides filing 28 corruption references in accountability courts and returned the recovered money to affectees. NAB Rawalpindi has received 11,000 complaints this year and recovered Rs 1 billion from corrupt elements and deposited into the national exchequer.
NAB staff has also been directed to deal the complainants with respect and uphold their self esteem and no laxity in this regard was tolerated.
NAB has established special desks in headquarters and regional bureaus for resolving the issues of business community.
Brushing aside the impression about leaving the plea bargainer scot free after striking a deal, he said an accused can apply for plea bargain as per clause25-B of NAB Ordinance. NAB examines the plea bargain application, includes markup in the looted amount and sends it to accountability court for final approval. A culprit requesting plea bargain not only confesses to his crime but also agrees to return the looted money with markup.
Plea bargain is prevalent in over 30 countries including the United States of America (USA), United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other countries of the world. In plea bargain a culprit only escapes jail and all other punishments under the relevant laws apply on the culprit. Plea bargain is a punishment in which a culprit does not go to jail. A government servant is dismissed from service after striking plea bargain deal. He becomes disqualified for govt service for his remaining life.
A politician becomes disqualified for a decade. He could not hold public office or contest elections for 10 years. In case of a business plea bargainer, he could not open or maintain a bank account.
The whole amount recovered from a plea bargainer is deposited in national kitty and NAB officers do not receive any share of recovered amount.