ISLAMABAD: As thousands of modaraba scam victims are pinning their hopes on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for the recovery of their Rs280 billions, infighting between top NAB officials is threatening to halt the probe into the mega scam, The News has learnt.
The victims, who had deposited their hard-earned money with a group of so-called religious scholars (muftis) in the name of modarba, are thronging NAB offices by thousands but the officials are unable to make a breakthrough in the investigations owing to severe infighting and absence of leadership.
The latest bone of contention between the NAB officials is the re-arrest of Mufti Ehsan Ul Haq, one of the key characters of the scam.
According to sources, the NAB headquarters has sought explanation from the Director General NAB Rawalpindi Col (R) Subah Sadiq over the re-arrest of Ehsan. Sadiq has been asked to explain why he had ordered the arrest of another modarba-scam related person Mian Moeen Aslam.
Ehsan, who earlier remained in NAB’s custody for several months, was released in June this year after signing a Voluntary Return plea of Rs550 million under section 25 (a) of NAO 1999.At the time of release Ehsan paid Rs450 million in cash and promised to pay the remaining amount within a month.
However he failed to return the money within stipulated time, upon which NAB again arrested him last week.The NAB Rawalpindi also arrested Mian Moeen Aslam earlier this month for allegedly taking Rs40 million cash and four expensive cars worth Rs60 million from a close relative of Ehsan, claiming that the vehicles and amount would be given to NAB officials as bribe.
According to NAB Rawalpindi, Moeen’s arrest is also being questioned now by NAB headquarters. Sources said the Deputy Chairman of NAB thinks his juniors at Rawalpindi regional office had misused their authority in arresting Moeen.
When contacted Col (Retd) Subah Sadiq said he is under pressure from NAB headquarters over Modarba scam related arrests. “The situation is disturbing and I am unable to expand the scope of investigations after the issuance of explanation letters by the NAB headquarters,” Sadiq told The News.
He said due process was followed in arrest and re-arrest of Mufti Ehsan as he had failed to fulfil the conditions of VR agreement. He said over 1500 more applications of the victims have been received so far by NAB Rawalpindi. Sadiq also disclosed that the amount recoverable from Mufti Ehsan has reached Rs2.5 billion in the light of victims’ applications.“We were afraid that the accused might leave the country if he is not arrested,” he said.
However, a spokesman of NAB deputy chairman Rear Admiral (retd) Saeed Ahmed Sargana denied that any pressure is being exerted on DG NAB Rawalpindi over Ehsan’s arrest.
“There is no truth in such allegations and the deputy chairman fully supports investigation into the modarba scam,” said his spokesman adding that NAB headquarters would support efforts of DG NAB Rawalpindi in recovering the looted amount.He said another official of NAB headquarters had only objected to NAB Rawalpindi’s signing of VR deal with Mufti Ehsan without following the proper procedure.
Meanwhile sources in NAB’s modarba investigation team believe Mufti Ehsan’s had collected Rs10 billion from his victims and promised six to eight per cent monthly profit.
They said several other fake modarba groups including Elixir group, Maizban group and Albaraka Marketing had also collected huge amounts from their victims and the total volume of the scam could reach Rs280 billion. These victims of modarba scam were promised up to 96% annual interest-free profit.
The initial investigations have revealed the so-called mufti gave major chunk of the amount to a powerful Afghan diamond smuggler who travels frequently to Singapore, Afghanistan and Thailand.
It is feared that the mysterious smuggler has transferred the money abroad. Two other main characters of the scam, Ghulan Rasool Ayubi and Mufti Osama, have fled the country to escape prosecution.
Sources said NAB is unable to initiate inquiry against other groups without the appointment of new chairman. They said any action against the diamond smuggler would also need chairman NAB’s approval.But the seat of NAB chief is vacant since May 28. The Supreme Court has given the government until today (Friday) to make the appointment.