Islamabad: Misuse of Rs2.5 bn SWF SC reprimands FIA for not booking NBP official
ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Wednesday reprimanded the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for not registering cases against officials of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) who misused Rs2.5 billion from the Staff Welfare Fund (SWF) of the bank. The court also issued notices to the bank management as well as its 16 directors who were given million of rupees as performance award from the Fund, meant for welfare of the bank employees.
A three-member bench of the apex court, comprising the chief justice, Justice Tariq Parvez and Justice Amir Hani Muslim, was hearing a petition filed by Sayed Jahangir, President, Collective Bargaining Agent (CBA) and Secretary General Trade Union Foundation of NBP, under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution against misuse of Rs2.5 billion from NBP’s Staff Welfare Fund.
The court also summoned the complete record of the meeting, held for giving million of rupees as performance award to NBP officials from the Staff Welfare Fund, including minutes of the meeting, list of officers who were selected and rejected for performance award and performance record of those officers who were given the award.
During the hearing, the chief justice observed that the delay in registration of cases against those involved in misuse of Staff Welfare Fund indicated that the FIA was under pressure. He said if the FIA would have registered cases and started action against the accused officials, the court had no need to be indulged in the matter.
The FIA’s Karachi Director Moazzam Jah informed the court that he had already approved investigation of the case and assigned the task to his deputy director through a letter on April 21.
Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, counsel for NBP, assured the court that the bank would not hide anything from the court. He said FIA officials were demanding passports from the senior officials of the bank. He said the bank wanted to become party in the case, which the court allowed. He said the NBP was earning a profit of Rs25 billion annually.
The chief justice said that million of rupees from the welfare fund were given to the officers of the bank. “How an official got Rs60 million from the fund as achievement award,” the chief justice inquired.
The court directed the bank management and 16 directors who were given performance award to file their reply until July 12. Hashmat Ali Habib, the counsel for the petitioner, contended that the disbursement of such amount was illegal and against the Banking Laws. He said on June 15, 1988, it was declared through a letter that the Staff Welfare Fund would be managed by the Board of Trustees, consisting of representatives of the management, officers and staff.
He said from the letter it was evident that as per Banks Nationalization Act, NBP’s Board of Directors was not competent to approve bonuses for the NBP president or any other executives without the prior approval from the shareholders of the bank in the annual general meeting. He said the funds were being distributed from 2003 without the government’s approval. He said a total of 16 senior executive members, including NBP president, were given such awards.
These officials included Qammar Hussain, Syed Ali Raza, Masood Karim Sheikh, Amer Siddique, Shahid Anwar Khan, Mirza Abrar Baig, Asif A Brohi, Muhammad Nusrat Voha, Ziaullah Khan, Imam Bux Baloch, Tahir Yaqoob, Khurshid Maqsood Ali, Ekhlaq Ahmed, Tajammul A Bukhari, Nadeem A Ilyas and Amer Sattar.
On last hearing, Karachi FIA Director Moazzam Jah had informed the court that more than Rs2.5 billion was embezzled in the NBP’s Staff Welfare Fund. Out of this amount, he said Rs330 million were distributed among the NBP officers whereas the remaining amount was distributed among the low-grade employees.
Contradicting the FIA report, NBP counsel Abdul Hafeez Pirzada had contended that it was totally false that the welfare fund was misused, adding that NBP’s 70,000 employees were benefiting from this fund, and no discrimination was made while getting money from the Staff Welfare Fund.