Islamabad, December 22, 2016 (PPI-OT):The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has recovered nearly Rs 3.25 billion in cash and property from former finance secretary of Balochistan Mushtaq Ahmed Raisani and contractor Sohail Majeed Shah under Plea Bargain (PB) deals in the mega corruption scandal. Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, NAB Director General Zahir Shah said both the accused had confessed their crime and were willing to return the amount got by them through corruption to the national exchequer.
The NAB, he had accepted Plea Bargain application of Mushtaq Raisani for depositing Rs 2.25 billion in cash and property with the national exchequer and that of Sohail Majeed for Rs 960 million. Giving the break-up, he said Raisani had surrendered Rs 653.2 million in cash and 3.3 kilogram gold worth Rs 13.5 million. The cash and the gold were recovered during the NAB’s raid at his residence in May, he added.
Raisani, he said, had also offered two properties, the first one worth Rs 60 million, in Quetta and the other worth Rs 70 million located in Karachi’s DHA. “These are in addition to the 11 properties already seized by the NAB from Raisani and Majeed,” Shah said. The properties, including two commercial plazas, three houses of minimum 500 sq yards each and six valuable residential plots, he said, were situated in the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and purchased for Rs 1.25 billion. “The NAB expects to sell the properties for Rs 1.5 billion to 2 billion,” he added.
Raisani had also surrendered two luxury cars, including a Mercedes Benz and a Toyota Grande, worth approximately Rs 8 million, Shah said. The NAB DG said as per law the recovered amount was transferred to the national exchequer after the plea bargain was materialized. “The NAB will not keep a penny from this… nor does it ever keep the recovered amount,” he replied to a question.
He said any amount recovered by the NAB was handed over to provincial governments via their chief secretaries. Hence, the total assets surrendered by Raisani were worth Rs 800 million while his 11 properties valued at Rs 1.25 billion. Talking about the alleged corruption of Sohail Majeed Shah, contractor and front man of Khalid Lango, ex-adviser to Chief Minister Balochistan, the NAB official said the accused had agreed to return all the money that he passed on to others.
“He has surrendered Rs 960 million which was routed through his accounts. He has also given some “valuable” houses,” he added. He said of the total allocation of Rs. 6 billion for local government funds, Rs 3 billion was released. “A huge amount of Rs 3 billion wad released for local government development but the lion’s share had allegedly been embezzled by Raisani and his cronies,” Zahir Shah said.
Answering a question, the NAB Director General said the bank accounts of both the accused have been frozen. The NAB official said an investigation against Lango, ex-adviser to the Balochistan Chief Minister, was in final stages and his case would be referred to a court soon. He said the NAB had emerged victorious in 76 % of court cases, which was the highest conviction rate in the world in term of white collar crimes.
From 2012 to 2016, he said, the NAB had recovered Rs 6 billion through PB and Rs 13 billion through Voluntary Return (VR). The total amount recovered during the period was Rs 45.37 billion, which also included recovery in bank loan cases. He said since its inception, the Bureau had recovered Rs 284 billion while 917 cases were settled under plea bargain deals and around 2900 cases under VR.
Zahir Shah under the plea bargain the accused had to face all legal charges except imprisonment. Replying to a query, the DG Operations said NAB had already recovered Rs 385 million from the owners of pharmaceutical companies under a plea bargain deal in a drug pricing scandal while the total recovery in the particular case would be Rs 1.11 billion.
Some accused, who were still in jail, had also requested for PB. The government officials involved in the scam were also in jail as their case was under trial, he added. He said the recovery of Rs 1.11 billion was said to be a record which was made possible after hectic efforts. Giving details of the scam, he said the officials of Ministry of National Regulations and Health Services and the owners of some pharmaceutical firms made an illegal increase in drug prices and even in some cases around 200 per cent, causing loss to the general public.
As per the investigation held under the supervision of DG NAB Rawalpindi, the accused were involved in an illegal increase of prices of drugs through misuse of meetings of Drugs Pricing Committee (DPC) meetings and its sub-committee. During the investigation, it was revealed that the pharmaceutical companies had been given undue financial favour by DPC members by allowing an exorbitant increase in drugs prices. He said the request of the accused persons for a plea bargain was considered by the competent authority after taking into consideration facts/circumstances of the case and keeping in view the total liability.
Replying to a question, he said the Bureau did not keep any penny from the recovered amount, however, it was provided around 8 to 10 per cent budgetary support as a specialized organization. Budgetary support was also audited every year, he added. Zahir Shah said credit should be given to the NAB Chairman and his team, which had ensured recovery of around Rs 4.5 billion through PB in the two corruption cases, ultimately giving benefit to the national kitty.
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