ISLAMABAD (APP): The Enforcement Strategy of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has proved successful in effectively curbing white collar crimes and led to recovery of proceeds of crime worth Rs. 278 billion since its inception.
The Bureau has received 3,21,318 complaints which were all disposed off according to law.
The Apex anti-corruption organization has authorized 7124 inquiries, 3616 investigation and filed 2610 in respective Accountability Courts to proceed against allegedly corrupt people during the period.
In short span of 16 years, Bureau's performance is considered as record achievement with overall convictions of 76 per cent.
Enumerating achievements, the Bureau on Thursday said its Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, after assuming charge in 2013 had taken various measures to revamp and chalked out an effective and comprehensive National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) for eradication of corruption and corrupt practices.
NAB 's National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) for eradication of corruption has acknowledged by national and international organizations like PILDAT and Transparency International.
The year 2014 was an year of rejuvenation of NAB in which many initiatives were taken to pursue corruption cases on merit without any fear and favor under Enforcement Strategy.
The Enforcement Strategy proved very successful in 2015 and present management has decided to continue its strategy in 2016 as well.
Highlighting salient features of NAB Enforcement Strategy, the Bureau said NAB operations start functioning on receipt of a written complaint about an alleged act of corruption & corrupt practices as defined under section 9.
The process initiated with verification of contents of complaint received and applicability of provisions of law. This process is called Complaint Verification (CV) wherein the complainant is called for confirming status and evidence available with him.
Once it is determined that the alleged offence falls under NAO and available material justifies for further process, the same is processed for subsequent action.
In the second step, inquiry under section 18 of the NAO is authorized to confirm committal of offence and collection of evidence to identify alleged person(s) involved.
The record/evidence collection process is supplemented with recording of statements of witnesses and accused persons.
The alleged person has option of Voluntary Return (VR) at this stage to return illegal gain and to avoid any fallout on his/her position in form of conviction or any disqualification for holding public office. This whole process is completed after due deliberations at each level by giving consideration to the role of Combined Investigation Teams (CITs) and in Regional Executive Board Meetings (RBMs).
Moreover, NAB has devised to rationalize the workload and timelines have been prescribed for efficient, effective and expeditious disposal of cases putting a maximum limit of 10 months- from complaint verification-to-inquiry-to-investigation and finally to a reference in Accountability Court.
In order to ensure uniformity and standardization, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for investigation officers (IOs) in vogue were reviewed and revised after a gap of 10 years in order to benefit from the experience and collective wisdom of senior supervisory officers, a system of CIT comprising of Director, Additional Director, Investigation Officer and a Senior Legal Counsel has been put in place.
This will not only lend quality to the work but also ensure that no single individual can influence the proceedings. The implementation of enforcement measures and prosecution matters is being monitored in NAB through daily, weekly and monthly reports and inspections.
During the investigation, the accused is provided opportunity to confront with evidence collected. The accused has the option of Plea Bargain (PB) at this stage to return the illegal gain to avoid trials and imprisonment. In any case the disposal of this stage is referred to the Court for final approval.
The enforcement Strategy of NAB starts with soft initiative of fact finding without blaming any person for an alleged act of corruption. The process moves with simple explanations from complainant to clarify the charges against accused and to confirm his position with material evidence if any. On the other hand during inquiry, the collection of evidence viz.a.viz the allegations are verified with explanations given by accused person and statements recorded from the witnesses.
If the stated version of accused is found implausible, the matter moves for option of accepting guilt and offering for voluntary return of assets or gain acquired as a consequence of an offence committed under NAO.
The tougher stage approached when after finalization of investigation the trial proceedings initiated and the accused persons are facing for charges of corruption and corrupt practices framed by the Accountability Court and where possible conviction which may extend to fourteen years Regress Imprisonment (RI) with fine and or confiscation of assets and properties in the name of accused or his family members.
This stage has multiple consequences both for the accused and his family. The disgracing life among the fellow members of the society may be one of the consequences beside economic constraints in participation of activities.
The operational arms of NAB are its Regional Bureaus which involved in field operations i.e. conduct of CVs, inquiries, investigations, prosecution of cases at trial and appellate stages.
The Operations Division and Prosecution Division at NAB Headquarters are providing all supports for smooth conduct of operational activities in accordance with law and the Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs).
The matters concerning placement on Exit from Control List (ECL), issuance of Red Notices against absconding accused, Requests for Mutual Legal Assistance from foreign jurisdictions and extradition of fugitives from law are rest with the NAB Headquarters. All these matters along with the operational powers not falling under the category of delegations are exercised by the Chairman NAB on the recommendation of Operations and Prosecution Divisions of NAB .
The Bureau under leadership of its Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry was committed to eradicating corruption across-the-board by adopting Zero Tolerance policy. Complaints Verifications, Inquiries and Investigations have been initiated against corrupt whom credible and corroborative evidence is available on merit.
NAB has its Headquarters in Islamabad and eight Regional Offices located at Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Balochistan, Multan, Sukkur and Sub Office at Gilgit Baltistan.