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EOBI corruption scandal: SC freezes DHA bank accounts

20 July, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday seized all the bank accounts of Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Islamabad and Rawalpindi after the authority's failure to deposit Rs 22 billion with the court's registrar's office over the alleged Rs 40 billion corruption scandal of the Employees' Old-Age Benefit Institution (EOBI).

The EOBI had paid Rs 22 billion to DHA for the purchase of land. The court on July 17 gave 48 hours to the DHA to deposit the money. A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, directed DHA counsel Ahmer Bilal Sufi to submit complete bank account details during the course of the day with the registrar.

The bench ordered the banks to file daily reports with the registrar regarding the accounts of the DHA. The authority would not be able to open new bank accounts. The court told the counsel that if the DHA agreed to deposit the amount it can file an application for the passing of an appropriate order. The bench directed the FIA to continue its investigation in the case and proceed against the EOBI and DHA officials involved in the Rs 40 billion EOBI scandal.

Ahmer Bilal Sufi informed the court that the DHA only has Rs 260 million in the banks. He said the EOBI had already issued allotment letters for the 321 kanals of land which the institute purchased in 2011 and 2012. He said that the amount was spent on clearing the liabilities of the DHA, while Rs 12 billion out of the total Rs 22 billion were given to Bahria Town. The bench objected to his stance and said, "You have only given them pieces of papers. The allotment letters are not equal to transfer of title of the land, as possession has not been handed over to the EOBI."

The court took note of the last payment made by EOBI to the DHA on March 15, 2013, the last day of the previous government. The FIA informed the court that the EOBI had also given money to four other housing societies – Eden Housing Society, Rs 1.87 billion; River Edge Housing Society, Rs 2.60 billion; Messer Pak-Arab Society, Rs 1.15 billion and Mughal Engineering Pvt Ltd, 1.43 billion. The court said if they also do not deposit the money with the SC registrar the order passed for DHA would be applied to them as well.

The inquiry report submitted by the FIA regarding the deal of EOBI with DHA and purchase of land in Chakwal claimed that there was no transparency in the dealings. The EOBI invested in the private sector against its rules and purchased undeveloped land for the price of developed plots.

According to the FIA report, EOBI paid Rs 15.473 billion to DHA on January 18, 2012 for the purchase of 321 kanals of land and further Rs 6.82 billion on March 15, 2013 for the purchase of plots in sector-F, Phase-I of DHA Rawalpindi.

"The land was got evaluated by M/s Diamen Associates by EOBI." Managing Director of the firm Wamiq along with his employee Shujja were questioned by FIA. It was learnt that Shujja, who does not even have the certificate of intermediate and has no relevant experience, carried out the evaluation study. Furthermore, EOBI paid Rs 44 million to the evaluator, the FIA report stated.

The evaluator told the investigators that they informed the EOBI that there had been no sale and purchase of property in the area where the institution wanted to purchase land from DHA. The report further states that the FIA learnt that DHA had in 2009 already entered into an agreement with Bharia Town and Habibi Rafique Private Limited for development and sale of the land that was later sold by the authority to EOBI.

The case has been adjourned until July 26.

End.

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