NAB Itself Faces Corruption Charges for Gobbling up Millions
ISLAMABAD: General Pervez Musharraf’s main arm-twisting
tool, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), is itself being
investigated for a mega fraud into the use and safe-keeping of
hundreds of millions of rupees recovered from criminals and plunderers
through plea bargains.
The Chief NAB Investigator, who has been pitching a number of
international institutions for netting Opposition politicians,
including Benazir Bhutto in the Swiss courts, is facing a reference
accused of embezzlement of hundreds of millions of rupees of plea
bargain money on which the NAB officials have been gobbling up
mark ups in private accounts.
to the NAB website, during past three years the NAB has entered
into 181 cases of plea-bargain through accepted court process
and recovered an amount of US$36 million, out of the total amount
recovered of over US$1.5 billion. The entire process of this recovery
has been effected through accountability courts with defendants
who pleaded guilty and who besides paying the said amount stand
debarred from holding public office for ten years along with other
the NAB top brass, also facing charges of involvement in this
case, is attempting to hush up the inquiry.
Over the past two years or so, these officials have been retaining
the plea bargain money extracted from politicians and bureaucrats
for allowing them out-of-court settlement in cases framed against
them. The biggest of these was the case of Admiral Mansur ul Haq,
the former Navy Chief, who coughed up over US$ 7 million.
The recovered money has been kept in the NAB officials’
private bank accounts though their details have been noted secretly
at the NAB headquarters in Islamabad. The money is largely spent
on "sources" and informants who assist the NAB in netting
the people listed on account of political and other affiliation
to organizations that are active against the military government.
Officials "tasking" these sources and informants to
projects normally draw up the "targets" and budget the
sending with the prior permission of Chief Investigator Financial
The man on this assignment, Talat Ghumman, a former Union Bank
official engaged by the NAB for carrying out investigations against
the "targets" is now reported to be in trouble on account
of a recent fraud based on misuse of the plea bargain money.
NAB insiders revealed to SA Tribunethat about three months
ago there was panic at the NAB headquarters over a tiny piece
of news item appearing in an Islamabad Urdu daily that indicated
some "hanky panky" at NAB in handling the plea bargain
"They started an inquiry at the highest levels to determine
as to who leaked the lead to the newspaper. This inquiry was inconclusive
when the NAB top bosses directed the relevant sections of the
Bureau to draft a court reference against the staff that had been
keeping the plea bargain money in their accounts. This reference
is currently being drafted, but it is not clear whether they would
actually send it to the court", said a NAB official.
He added that the reference framing was ordered as the government
(may be high military hierarchy) came to know of the fraud through
the news item and asked the NAB chief, Gen Munir Hafiz, to look
into the matter.
Talat Ghumman is reported to have deferred sending of the reference
to the court, according to NAB sources. They added that Ghumman,
who happens to be second only to the NAB chief, told his boss
that he himself wanted to first conclude an in-house inquiry on
what actually happened.
Sources claim that it was him who had initially proposed to NAB
that such private accounts be run to keep the plea bargain money
and NAB informants protected from scrutiny.
He is already facing FIA inquiry into his own bank accounts as
he is known to be one of the top spendthrifts in the federal capital,
throwing parties on regular basis at which the country’s
elite is reportedly offered all kinds of "ayyashi"
(perverse pleasures), including strip dances by professionals
from the red-light areas of the country.
Running private bank accounts on the plea bargain money that is
retained by the NAB for funding investigations is illegal in the
first place, and the surfacing of a fraud based on extracting
mark up on this money has shaken the entire edifice of the institution
that was basically set up to prevent and help punish financial
frauds in the country.
Once it becomes known that NAB has been conducting itself at this
sorry level, the investigations it has carried out against politicians
would be running into jeopardy on credibility grounds.
The Opposition politicians in Pakistan have been complaining against
NAB for its dubious conduct wherein it spent millions to trumped
up cases against them to publicly malign them and damage their
The writer of this report is a former senior bureaucrat who
remained part of NAB investigations till recently