Lahore: Urea smuggling Ministry sweeps aside fertiliser scam
LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has been prevented allegedly by the interior ministry from registering a case against the officials of a state-owned fertiliser company for their involvement in a multi–billion rupee scam, The Express Tribune has learnt. The case in question, regarding the misappropriation of urea worth Rs27 billion by officials and contractors of the National Fertiliser Marketing Limited (NFML), first came to light when the FIA received a complaint forwarded by the Supreme Court in April 2010.
The complainant alleges that NFML officials as well as then secretary industries Shahab Anwar Khwaja and former NFML managing director Muhammad Ijaz received Rs390 million in bribes to allow smuggling of fertiliser to Afghanistan via Chaman.
Around 2.5 million tons of urea worth $1 billion was imported by the company in question, but only 40% of it was delivered to the warehouses. The government provides subsidies on such fertiliser imports.
Sources said FIA’s Corporate Crime Cirle (CCC), Lahore, started an investigation after registering an enquiry and FIA’s director general was informed of the discrepancy by Section Officer Ali Akbar. The investigation agency’s Punjab chapter then sought the interior ministry’s approval to register a case against the responsible.
Since one of the accused is a Grade–18 officer, permission needs to be sought from the interior ministry before the FIR is registered. However, the ministry has put the matter on hold indefinitely.
Ten people are said to behind the multi–billion rupee scam. These persons besides misappropriating huge quantities of fertiliser are also alleged to be receiving payments on the pretext of labour and handling charges, sources said.
The confidential final report prepared by FIA’s inquiry officer was forwarded to the interior ministry to seek permission for the registration of an FIR.
The report names NFML deputy general manager (marketing and distribution) Hamid Pervez; company consultant (sales and marketing) Col (retd) Ikramul Haq; regional manager, Lahore, Abdul Ghaffar; and carriage contractors Khwaja Ahmad Shahzad, Khawaja Faisal, Khawaja Akbar and their close relatives whose bank accounts were used.