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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Suprem Court of Pakistan directs action against Islamabad Police chief

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The Supreme Court on Friday directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take legal action against Islamabad Chief Commissioner Fazeel Asghar for facilitating Sheikh Muhammad Afzal, the owner of Haris Steel Mills, to flee from the country.

Sheikh Afzal was the main accused in the mega financial scam of Rs9 billion at the Bank of Punjab (BoP), Lahore. A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmed and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, passed these order after the submission of Fazeel Asghar’s confessional statement during the hearing of the BoP Rs9 billion loan scam.

“Despite his (Fazeel) confession that he facilitated Shiekh Afzal to flee the country despite being on the Exit Control List (ECL) during his tenure as District Coordination Officer (DCO), why law was not allowed to take its course,” the chief justice observed and expressed displeasure for not taking action against Fazeel Asghar.

Expressing displeasure over the transfer of DG FIA Tariq Khosa, the chief justice observed that “it seems as if he has been penalised and transferred for efficiently assisting the court in Rs 9 billion scam”.

The FIA and the NAB authorities recently managed to arrest Sheikh Afzal from Malaysia and brought him back. He had confessed to getting Rs 9 billion from the BoP and had assured the court to pay back the said amount being claimed against him by the bank

The court directed Acting Attorney General, Shah Khawar, to submit a report regarding the transfer of Tariq Khosa. The court inquired from Azam Khan, Director Law, FIA, that whether it was a routine transfer.

He also inquired about the prescribed tenure for DG Azam Khan then stated that tenure for the DG was three years and Khosa had spent merely one and a half year. “The court is not handicapped, we have judicial authority to entrust this particular case to Khosa,” the chief justice said, adding that “no one is indispensable but Khosa had performed well in response to assignments given him by the court, including the BoP loan scam”. Instead of any appreciation, he was transferred, the chief justice maintained.

Meanwhile, Dr Danishwar Malik, NAB’s Prosecutor General, informed the court that Hamesh Khan, former BoP president and major accused of Rs9 billion scam, was arrested from the USA.

“We have started the process to bring him back and it may take some time as it would be decided by a magistrate in the US,” he submitted. Answering a court query, Dr Malik said that extradition of Hamesh Khan would take some time as a magistrate there would hear the case. He, however, said that all the relevant documents regarding his crime had been submitted by the NAB.

Aftab Ahmed, NAB investigation officer, submitted written details of the investigation process and said Sheikh Afzal’s two accounts worth Rs 1.6 billion in Dubai and Malaysia had also been frozen.

He said so far Rs 5.83 billion had been recovered and negotiations were underway with two brothers of Sheikh Afzal for recovery of another amount of Rs 1.73 billion. He said the recovery was made through ornaments, certificates and money while bank accounts of Sheikh Nisar amounting to Rs 230 million and Rs 300 million had also been frozen.

Waseem Sajjad, senior counsel for Seth Nisar (brother of Sheikh Afzal), said that his client had paid Rs 400 million and requested the court for protection from the NAB. Earlier, the court had directed the NAB to put Nisar on ECL and take his passport in custody. The court had denied the request of Waseem Sajjad due to the fear that he could again flee the country.

Khawaja Haris, counsel for the BoP, told the court that they had also received plea bargain requests to settle the issue from the bank officials involved in the scam. The court then said the defaulted amount should be recovered at any cost and adjourned the hearing for December 16.

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