SC opens probe into Rs 40bn EOBI scandal

EOBI scandal
SC opens probe into Rs 40bn EOBI scandal

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to complete its investigation into the Rs 40 billion scandal of the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) within ten days and submit a detailed report before the bench.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry heard a suo motu case pertaining to the corruption scandal. The court directed FIA DG to immediately conduct an enquiry in all the 18 transactions made in the instant case, admitted by the EOBI secretary. The court further directed that investigation must be conducted without caring for any political pressure as the amount allegedly misappropriated belongs the taxpayers. The court also directed the interior secretary to strengthen the investigation in the case by allowing officials within or outside of the FIA and take effective measures for the completion of the probe. The court directed the FIA DG to complete the investigation in ten days and submit a compliance report by July 12.

“Serious efforts have to be made to collect concrete evidence instead of spoiling the same,” the chief justice observed, adding the amount misappropriated belongs to the taxpayers. Last week, the chief justice took notice of the corruption scandal of more than Rs 40 billion in the EOBI and issued notices to attorney general of Pakistan, Ministry of Human Resource Development secretary, FIA DG, EOBI chairman and former EOBI chairman Zafar Iqbal Gondal directing them to appear before the court on July 1.

According to the reports huge investments were made in different schemes in the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), purchase of the Crown Plaza in F7 Markaz in Islamabad, purchase of two 4,300cc Prado cars for personal use, two controversial plots in Sukkar, investment to develop a cricket ground in Islamabad, purchase of seven plots from the CDA, 40 kanals and 16 marlas land in Lahore, purchase of four floors of plaza/hotel in Lahore, investment was made in the construction of a seven star hotel in front of the Lahore airport, construction of M9 Motorway by EOBI and the purchase of land worth Rs 20 crore near Karachi airport, etc.

During the hearing, EOBI Secretary Abdul Khaliq presented a report and placed on record a list of 18 transactions made without following the PPRA rules and in a non-transparent manner. He also confirmed that whatever had been reported in the media about the case was true, although certain chain or links were missing. He also informed the court that his department had requested the relevant quarters to put the name of former EOBI chairman Zafar Iqbal Gondal on the Exit Control List (ECL).

He said that Zafar Gondal has been repatriated to his parent department, the Auditor General of Pakistan, since then and currently the EOBI was without a chairman. It must be noted that Zafar Gondal is the brother of senior PPP leader Nazar Gondal. Meanwhile, FIA Director General Saud Mirza informed the court that the agency had arrested three persons, namely former investment director general Wahid Khurshid and two officers of the EOBI – Col (r) Ali Hassan Mirza and his daughter Maham Majeed, for their alleged involvement in the corruption.

The FIA DG told the court that the agency had evidence that a considerable amount of money paid to purchase different properties had come back in the accounts of Zafar Iqbal Gondal as kickbacks and commissions. Meanwhile, Huzaifaur Rehman who broke the corruption story on a private television channel assured the bench that he would hand over the documentary evidence regarding the EOBI corruption, but complained about threatening calls he was receiving from certain quarters. The court ordered the interior secretary to ensure full protection to the journalist. – DailyTimes