FIA launches countrywide probe against Rs 77 billion corruption case of ETPB

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FIA launches countrywide probe against Rs 77 billion corruption case of ETPB

LAHORE: Following orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) launched a countrywide probe against the officials of Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) for causing a loss to the tune of Rs77 billion due to alleged irregularities.

The FIA officials confirmed on Wednesday that they had started the probe into the affairs of the ETPB as an SC bench, led by Chief Justice Justice Gulzar Ahmad while hearing a case on November 16, had ordered the Director General FIA to identify board officials (former and incumbent) responsible for the “big loss.”

“We have started several inquiries at FIA Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, etc. into ETPB’s affairs. We have held a couple of meetings with ETPB officials and have sought complete records from them,” a senior FIA official told Bol News.

He said that the FIA would examine their record and take strict actions against the accused officials if found guilty and added, the SC had given them one month to submit a preliminary report on the matter.

The top court gave the orders after the Auditor-General of Pakistan (AGP) submitted its forensic report — conducted on the orders of SC — related to ETPB.

“This court has passed an order dated 31.03.2021 by which the Auditor-General of Pakistan was directed to conduct a forensic audit of all the properties lying in trust with the Board under Evacuee Trust Property Board Act, 1975 and to give a comprehensive report.”

The SC also appointed Dr Shoaib Suddle, Chairman One-Man Commission, to look into the affairs of ETPB.

The court observed Dr Suddle had stated that the ETPB board did not cooperate with the AG, and instead of providing complete records, it provided less than 50% of property records. At one instance, it added, there were 7143 urban units in which serious irregularities were found wherein the amount involved was staggering to Rs77.597 billion.

The SC observed it was told that the board had submitted 17 volumes containing records of the 48,000 properties belonging to the government of Pakistan.

“It is stated that three properties have been sold; one to DHA, Lahore, the second to Multan Development Authority (MDA) and the third to Talib Hussain.”

The top court observed that “let full record regarding the selling of the land to above three entities/persons be furnished to the court and also provide to the Court material and law based on which the sale could have been made.”

The SC also directed to issue notices to the DHA, Lahore, Director General Multan Development Authority and Talib Hussain to show under which authority of law they could acquire the land belonging to the federal government of Pakistan, lying in trust with the ETPB board.

“In the circumstances, let a copy of the report of Auditor-General of Pakistan be provided to the Director-General, FIA, who shall take immediate action against the officials, who are found responsible in the commission of irregularities in the matter of properties lying in trust with the Board and in this regard shall deal with all past, and present officials of the Board and they be dealt with in accordance with the law.”