NICL scam: Minister withdrew Rs197m by cheques: FIA

The state minister for defence production, Major (retd) Habibullah Warraich, withdrew over Rs197.26 million from the money plundered in the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) scam via eight separate cheques between March 2 and October this year.

The Express Tribune has learnt on good authority that the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) anti-corruption circle, Lahore, has in their possession all of these cheques, bearing the former state minister’s signatures.

FIA officials also moved to re-arrest four of the NICL directors, including Syed Athar Ali Naqvi, Zahaoor Ahmed, Ijaz Ahmed and Zahid Hussain in the dubious purchase of over 20-kanal plot of land from Mohsin Habib against the payment of Rs1.653 billion.

The FIA director in Punjab, Zafar Ahmed Qureshi, claimed that he had not only recovered the actual amount from the accused but also the mark-up which was paid into his account.

The FIA Lahore team, comprising Deputy Director FIA Corporate Crime Circle Javed Shah and Assistant Director Anti-Corruption Circle Muhammad Ahmed Cahaudhry, returned after interrogating Ayaz Khan Niazi who is now in the custody of FIA, Karachi.

During interrogation Niazi, the former chief executive of the NICL, is reported to have insisted that he was innocent and was not responsible for any wrongdoing, adding that he had formed various committees for land purchases and other matters and he had approved the deals after the committees and the board of directors had given the go-ahead.

Sources said that Ayaz Niazi had submitted hand-written statements along with annexures of the relevant NICL records in the two cases registered in Lahore.

On the other hand, the Special Judge Central Lahore rejected bails of seven NICL directors, saying that all directors concerned and chairman were equally responsible. Interestingly, the NICL cancelled the more than 803-kanal deal on June 12 this year but no steps were taken for the recovery of more than Rs1.68 billion, documents recovered by FIA showed.

Although the money was paid, the land was not mutated in the name of NICL. Sources said that Sindh government has provided three mobile vehicles for Ayaz Khan Niazi on the direction of Sindh’s home minister.

Other members of the Warraich family, including Mohsin Habib Warraich’s wife Beenish Khan, his mother and two sisters also opened personal and joint accounts in the Dubai Islamic Bank’s Gulberg Branch in Lahore just for transferring funds received by NICL on account of the land sale.

During the FIA investigation, it was learnt that the main accused Mohsin Habib opened seven accounts of family members in the same bank branch.

Sources said that three of the accounts were in Pakistani currency while two in US dollars, one in UK pound sterling and one in euro. Two of the accounts were jointly operated by Mohsin and his mother, while one was operated by his father.

Records also showed that Major (retd) Warraich also opened a Pakistani currency account. So far, other accused wanted by FIA Lahore, including the main accused, Amin Qasim Dada, NICL director and Rind Muhammad Ali, an employee of Mohsin Warriach are still at large. Two of the accused Mohsin Habib Warriach and Javed Syed are said to be abroad, FIA sources said.

Details of frozen properties, accounts

The Federal Investigation Authority has so far frozen accounts worth Rs4.785 million present in Dubai Islami Bank Gulberg Branch and Bank Al Falah, Cavalry Ground branch, Rs55 million in Hong Kong Shanghai Bank (HSBC), House No2-A in the posh area of Cavalry Ground and attached the Warraich family’s old residence worth Rs42.5 million, a farm house located in Toor Warriach valued at Rs13.5 million, 803 kanal ,19 marla land located in Mouza Toor Warraich Lahore bought by NICL for more than Rs1.68 billion.

Authorities have also seized the full amount paid by NICL in two accounts: one amounting to Rs700.02 million in case No 24 of 2010 and over Rs442.41 million in case No 29 also of 2010.

The FIA has also frozen two properties of the former NICL chairman, including House No 30-E, Phase-VIII in DHA of Lahore which is valued at Rs400 million and a 160-kanal piece of land located in Khanewal valued at Rs160 million. In the second case (FIR No 29/2010), FIA has so far been able to seize more than Rs442.4 million from the accounts of the Warriach family, a villa valued at Rs400 million in Phase II (extension) in DHA, Islamabad, another property measuring 20 Kanals and two marlas located near Lahore airport purchased by NICL from Mohsin in Rs1.653 billion.

FIA’s Punjab chapter has so far arrested 10 accused in the NICL scam.

By: Asad Kharal

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