How Bank of Punjab was criminally assaulted

By Muhammad Ahmad Noorani

ISLAMABAD: In-house investigations conducted by management of the Bank of Punjab (BoP) have revealed that unique ways were adopted by criminals for committing the biggest financial scandal of the recent times to deceive the banking system, including use of fake NICs, fake company documents and fake collateral of barren and useless land situated at the banks of rivers having no market value.

A fraud of Rs 13 billion was committed in connivance with the old management of the bank. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and other concerned departments have started an investigation after The News revealed the scandal in 2007 during the Musharraf’s regime. The then BoP president Hamesh Khan was said to be a close friend of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

A top NAB official confided to The News that after the NAB had started the investigations, the presidency had attempted to influence the process and even one of the top men of the NAB, at its headquarters in Islamabad, tried to halt the investigations.

ىSomehow, the investigations continued and the case turned into the biggest financial bank scandal of the NAB’s history. The officials said the NAB had recovered assets of around Rs 5 billion from the mafia involved in this case. However, the recent developments regarding the case are leading the case towards a situation where the mafia may succeed in getting away with billions of rupees of poor depositors.

According to BoP records, the petitioners of the present petition being heard in the Supreme Court for shifting of the case from Lahore High Court (LHC) to the apex court, namely Muhammad Munir, Muhammad Afzal and Jamil, all possess more than one NIC, something confirmed to the BoP and the NAB by the NADRA.

Muhammad Munir, director Haris Steel, possess two NICs. One NIC bears the information as ىMuhammad Munir, son of Muhammad Latif, House # 98, Block-H/3, Model Town Lahoreî. The other NIC Munir possesses bears the information as ىMuhammad Jamil, son of Muhammad Hanif, while the address is the same. Both the NICs bear the same photograph and the same signature.

Petitioner Jamil also has two NICs. One of his NIC bears information as ىMuhammad Jamil, son of Muhammad Hanif, House-140, Nai Abadi, Kot Lakhpat, Lahoreî, while the other NIC he possesses bears information as ىSheikh Muhammad Jamil, son of Muhammad Hanif, House # 95-A, Model Town, Lahoreî.

The NADRA has verified to the BoP and the NAB that both the NICs possessed by Jamil bear the same photograph and signature but different NIC numbers and addresses. The financial facility Muhammad Munir obtained from the BoP for the companies, Haris Steel, Wisdom Trading (Pvt) Ltd, Al-Hammad Enterprises and Better Traders was by using all fake documents. According to the BoP officials, the last three companies were fake.

On disclosure of the fraud, Muhammad Munir managed to merge the accounts of the last three companies into the account of Haris Steel in connivance with former BoP chief Hamesh Khan. BoP officials say that by doing so, Munir had admitted the fraud he had committed. A top BoP official said any superior court before hearing or making any order should first decide as to what petitioner it was giving justice, Muhammad Munir or Muhammad Jamil.

The other major financial facility was obtained in the name of Ali Ijaz for companies Haider Steel, Unique Enterprises and Lucky Enterprises. The last two companies were fake. Ali Ijaz, who basically is an accountant in Haris Steel, also possessed multiple NICs, which he used in committing this fraud. One of his NIC bears the information ىAli Ijaz, son of Ali Husain, NIC # 35202-2985126-3, House #118-E, Gulshan Park, Bhatta, Kohar, Lahoreî. The other NIC he possesses bears information as ىAbid Iftikhar, son of Iftikhar Ahmad, NIC #35201-8381030-7, House #212-A/1, Jauhar Town, Lahoreî. The NADRA has confirmed to the BoP and the NAB that both the NICs were of Ijaz and that everything was different except the photograph.

A total of Rs 5 billion financial facility was availed in the names of Haris Steel and Haider Steel directly while the remaining amount of around Rs 4 billion was all in the name of 23 fake companies. This entire amount, which now increased to more than Rs 13 billion, was merged into the three accounts of Haris Steel, Haider Steel and Prime Steel and the former BoP president and its former board of directors only a few days before leaving their charge not only facilitated this merger of accounts but also rescheduled the whole amount with no mark up.

The third major financial facility was obtained by a person of the same mafia. Waris Malik obtained financial facility for Prime Steel and Roshan Enterprises by using fake documents. Waris also possesses multiple NICs; one of his NICs gave information as ىWaris Malik, son of Karamat Ali, House 95-A, Model Town, Lahoreî, while information on the other NIC is: ىSheikh Muhammad Jamil, son of Muhammad Hanif, with the same residence address, i.e. 95-A, Model Town, Lahoreî. Both the NICs display the same picture.

It is worth mentioning here that the address ىHouse #95-A, Model Town, Lahoreî repeatedly used by this mafia, according to police report, is possessed by someone called Sardar Muhammad Iqbal, who is a retired professor of the Punjab University and is residing in the house for the last 11 years. The said retired professor did not know any person with the name of Waris or Munir or any person in the mafia. These two accounts in which Waris obtained financial facility were later merged in the account of Haider Steel.

The most important aspect of this third major facility is that the NADRA has identified ىWaris Malikî as Abid Raza, and that ىWarisî never used his original name and documents for committing this fraud. According to the record of Haris Steel and Haider Steel, now in possession of the NAB, this person Abid Raza (Waris) is basically an employee of Muhammad Muneer and Muhammad Afzal, who are the petitioners in the petition being heard by the Supreme Court. According to NAB officials, most of the vehicles the NAB seized are registered in the names of Shiekh Afzal, Haris Afzal, Irfan Sheikh, Muhammad Munir and Waris Malik.

More than 200 land collaterals were submitted by this mafia for availing this facility. Following is the detail of only five of these lands with their evaluated money mentioned by mafia and the exact evaluation conducted by the BoP through an evaluating firm recommended by the State Bank of Pakistan: –

A land of 84 Kanals and 14 Marlas, in the name of Muhammad Arshad, in Moza Badalpirkay, Tehsil Chuniyaan, was evaluated at Rs 177.6 million by Haris Steel but the independent firm evaluated this barren land situated near river bank for Rs 190,000 only.

A land of 90 Kanals, in the name of Mohsan Ali, Moza Shah Bazke, Tehsil Chuniyaan, was evaluated at Rs 148.8 million by Haider Steel but the independent evaluating firm said it is worth just Rs 203,000.

A 70 Kanal land, in the name of some Zahid Mahmood, in Moza Mahmood Khanke, Tehsil Chuniyaan, was evaluated at Rs 135.4 million by Haider Steel, while the independent firm found it was worth Rs 198,000 only.

A land of 88 Kanals, in the name of some Aftab Ahmad, in Moza Shah Bazke, Tehsil Chuniyaan, was evaluated as 183.7 million by Prime Steel but the independent firm evaluated it for only for two lake rupees.

A land of 80 Kanals, in the name of Aftab Ahmad in Moza Podalbarike, Tehsil Chuniyaan, was evaluated at Rs 165.6 million by Prime Steel but the evaluators said it was worth Rs 160,000 only.

Rest of the lands are also barren and are situated on river banks and have no value or use. The total land collaterals submitted for committing this fraud of billions of rupees is evaluated by a State Bank nominated firm as worth around Rs 900 million.

According to the BoP officials, it was an irrefutable fact that the mafia, with the aide, abetment and assistance of each other, committed forgery for the purpose of cheating and obtaining huge benefits through illegal means and intentionally, dishonestly and fraudulently caused huge financial lose to a public institution — the Bank of Punjab ٌ and in turn the public at large.

Beside all this, according to a top BoP official, the profitability of the bank and deposits are on very strong footing and the bank is clearly in a position to bear this loss, which may be caused to the BoP due to this fraud but the bank management thought: ىAt what cost? Inefficiency of the bureaucracy or efficiency of our justice system?î

This top BoP official also made it clear that even if the BoP bears this loss, it will be a burden on the depositors and loss of the common and poor people as they will be deprived of many benefits that the bank might have given to them.

On the other hand, the NAB officials, while confirming the details, say the allegation of the mafia that they had been illegally harassed by the NAB is baseless and mala fide and is an effort to mislead the process of investigation and, in turn, to cause loss to a public institution and to the depositors and the general public.

Source: The News, 4/8/2008

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