Let me start by giving you some background of the Aitzaz’s latest client: Bank of Punjab/Haris Steel:
The scandal broke around April/May 2008 when NAB arrested ex-BoP president, five GMs.
LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has arrested Hamesh Khan, the sacked chairman of the Bank of Punjab (BoP), and five former general managers of the bank on massive fraud charges, sources in the bureau told Daily Times on Sunday.
Haroon Aziz, Khalid Qayyum, Amir Mumtaz, Muhammad Hussain and Amir Ifitkhar have been named as the five arrested former BoP general managers, the sources said.
According to Geo TV, an internal audit of the BoP disclosed a fraud worth Rs 13 billion during the previous government’s tenure. It said the case was referred to the State Bank of Pakistan, which sent it to NAB for further investigations.
The channel added that NAB sources had confirmed the fraud, saying that the BoP administration had issued heavy loans against ordinary property.
It has been learnt that Hamesh’s arrest came after Sharjeel Masood, a senior BoP officer and right hand man of Hamesh, informed authorities of the latter’s activities. The sources said the officials had been under NAB detention since Thursday. They added that former Punjab Secretary Salman Siddique and the former Finance secretary would also be investigated in the case.
At this time we did not know who the beneficiaries were and Haris Steel was presented just as “a middle east company”:
Sacked BoP president shifted to unknown place for probe
Monday, May 05, 2008
By our correspondent
LAHORE: Sacked president of Bank of Punjab (BoP) Hamesh Khan, who was arrested a couple of days ago by the officials of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), has been shifted to some unknown place for further interrogation on Sunday.
The sources said Hamesh presented himself to the officials of NAB in the Chanbha House for arrest a couple of days ago and he was shifted to some unknown place for grilling him on the charges of irregularities levelled against him.
The NAB officials had asked Hamesh to become approver to save his skin by providing evidence against the previous government, which forced him to issue illegal loans. A well-informed source confided to The News that the under-trial sacked president of BoP will unveil the hidden hands involved in carrying irregularities in the BoP.
Hamesh was sacked on April 27, 2008, on the charges of massive irregularities in giving loans to the political figures in violation of the policy. The BoP management had given Rs 9 billion loan to a Middle East company but did not keep any record of the company, sources added. Similarly, the Annual Report of the BoP for 2007 mentioned that the State Bank had imposed penalty of Rs 34.995 million, which was the maximum fine imposed by the SBP that year on any bank. Hamesh had also taken Rs 52.885 million from the BoP for managerial and administrative remunerations. On managerial remunerations, Hamesh had got Rs 12.131 million and also got Rs 39.594 million as bonus from the bank. The sacked president also got more than Rs 3 lakh as house rent, 4 lakh for utility bills and Rs 4 lakh for other expenses.
Of course the government’s reaction was surprising:
Complaint against BoP officials ‘not from govt’
By Intikhab Hanif
LAHORE, May 8: Chief Secretary Javed Mahmood said on Thursday the provincial government had not lodged any complaint against any official of the Bank of Punjab (BoP) and there was no plan to proceed against his predecessor, Salman Siddique. Talking to Dawn at the Civil Secretariat, the chief secretary, who is also the BoP chairman, said the provincial government had not blamed anyone for any irregularity in the bank because no probe had so far been conducted into its affairs. Being a chief secretary of the Punjab, Mr Salman Siddique was also chairman of the BoP whose President Hamesh Khan was sacked last week on charges of irregularities. The chief secretary said at present a team of the State Bank of Pakistan was conducting a routine audit of the BoP. “We also want a special audit of certain areas of the bank, but we are at present selecting a renowned firm for the purpose,” he said. The process of selecting the firm and then completion of the special audit would take some time. And all those found guilty of misconduct or corruption would have to face the music, he warned. He clarified that the provincial government had not lodged any complaint against former BoP president Hamesh Khan with any law-enforcement agency. Hamesh was not being interrogated by the police or any other Punjab agency, he said. The government, he said, had not sacked any official of the BoP and it had no plan to do so in future. Meanwhile, a spokesman of the Punjab government said there had been continuous speculative reporting in the press about the BoP, sacking of a large number of its senior officers and inquiries against certain senior government officers. These reports were factually incorrect, he claimed. The spokesman said the present BoP board of directors had been taking stock of the situation as part of its responsibilities towards the bank and its shareholders. He said in order to get a clear picture, the board had at its recent meetings thought it appropriate to arrange for a legal and financial audit through reputable auditors who would be presenting their reports in due course of time. According to him, no specific officer, including former director or government servant, was the focus of these inquiries and audits. So far as the NAB was concerned, he said, it was looking at the specific case of Harris Steel for the last few months and being a federal agency, it would take its own decision on further proceedings in the matter.
[NOTE: SALMAN SADDIQUI, the former Chief Secretary, Punjab, is one of the most corrupt officials around. No surprise he has CLIMBED UP the bureaucratic ladder since. Today he holds the position of the Federal Finance Secretary AND Federal Secretary, Revenue Division]
And soon we learnt that the scam was even bigger than previously thought — Not Rs. 9 billion but Rs. 13 billion:
Bank of Punjab scam swells to Rs13 billion
By Our Staff Reporter
LAHORE, July 30: Another Rs4 billion have been found embezzled in the Bank of Punjab fraud, raising the total volume of the ‘biggest ever’ financial scam to Rs13 billion. A NAB officer told Dawn on Wednesday that the bureau had detected the new embezzlements by the owners of three steel mills – Haris, Prime and Haider – who had taken huge loans from the BoP with the connivance of its former head Hamesh Khan and other senior officers on fake identity cards, over value collaterals\mortgages. The officer further informed that Prime and Haider steel mills existed on paper while the Haris mills had a small unit on Sheikhupura Road. He said NAB had so far seized the bank accounts, properties and 22 luxury vehicles worth about Rs5 billion. Hamesh Khan, the prime accused, had managed to escape the country in the last week of May this year while the other co-accused Seth Afzal, owner of the Haris Steel Mill, and his close associate Irfan Shaikh are also at large. The NAB succeeded in arresting BoP’s former general manager, country risk manager, regional manager and two managers. They have been sent on judicial remand. Punjab NAB director (investigation) Brig Farooq Hameed (retired) confirmed that Hamesh had escaped to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). “We have come to know through the Personal Identification Secure and Comparison Evaluation System (PISCES) of the Federal Investigation Agency that Hamesh managed to leave the country on May 28 (this year) from the Peshawar airport,” he said and added that the bureau’s overseas wing would try to bring him back. Hamesh had American nationality. Mr Hameed said it was the `biggest ever’ scam in the country’s history and as the bureau had frozen the properties of some of the accused there were chances that they might enter into a plea bargain under the National Accountability Ordinance 1999. NAB officials are disturbed over losing key accused – Hamesh Khan and Shaikh Irfan – as they believe that their arrest could have helped recover the looted amount.
Interesting isn’t it? So by now we know that the biggest scam in the history of Pakistan was bigger than previously thought and the “middle east company” that benefitted was in fact the local financial advisor of the Chaudhries of Gujrat who had taken these loans (Rs 13 billion’s worth) against non-existent assets (except for a small steel unit). We also by now know that the government was NOT interested is prosecuting the thieves and had even let one of the main culprits escape.
The government in fact left no doubt it wanted to become a party to the scam when Syed Sharifuddin
Pirzada Haramzada, Wasim Sajjad Kutta, two former Prosecutors Generals of NAB Irfan Qadir, Naveed Rasool Mirza and Fake “Dr” Babar Awan Haywan joined the legal team to defend Haris Steel. So the fix was in. Their first move was to — get this — have two officers of the NAB arrested (Their offense? Trying to arrest
one of the accused who was on the run. The ended up spending a week in jail for doing their job).
Keep in mind that the case was going on in Lahore High Court (LHC) but this accused was arrested when he showed up at SC with his team of high profile lawyers. That NAB was looking for Mohammad Irfan was common knowledge and these lawyers knew NAB would try to arrest him so his appearance at SC was well advertised and NAB fell for the trick. They then used it as one of the excuses to have the case moved out of LHC to SC:
BoP scam: SC takes up plea to shift case today
Thursday, July 24, 2008
By Muhammad Ahmad Noorani
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan takes up today (Thursday) a petition regarding the shifting of the Bank of Punjab case from the Lahore High Court (LHC) to the Supreme Court. The bank scam has caused the bank a loss of more than Rs8 billion.
Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Wasim Sajjad, two former Prosecutors Generals of NAB Irfan Qadir, Naveed Rasool Mirza and Dr Babar Awan have moved a petition in the apex court pleading for the shifting of the hearing of the Bank of Punjab scam case, which is being investigated by NAB, from LHC to the Supreme Court by exercising the power conferred on it by P.O.No.5 of 2007 whereby Gen. Musharraf by amending Article 186-A of the Constitution gave powers to the Supreme Court to transfer any of the pending cases from any High Court to its own file.
The petitioners have prayed that they do not expect justice from the LHC as it is situated in the province, which is under the influence of Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif, the latter being the chief minister of the province.
Barrister Akram Sheikh, who will represent the Bank of Punjab in the hearing has filed reply to the petition and will represent the bank in the apex court today. Barrister Akram has said in his reply that the same LHC has disqualified Nawaz Sharif from contesting the elections. “NAB, which is investigating the case, is not under the Punjab Government and is an autonomous body. The LHC, which is constitutionally an independent court, should be given the right to hear the case. The Supreme Court, being the apex court, can hear the appeal against any verdict of any high court,” Akram argued in his reply. Akram also argued that the clause under which the petitioners have pleaded to transfer the case from the LHC to the Supreme Court has not received parliamentary validation so far.
Akram argued in his reply that it was a matter of great importance and survival of a financial institution. The scam was one of the biggest financial scandals in Pakistan’s history. “It is submitted with great respect and dignity that the invocation of the Constitutional petition is mala fide. The petitioners who have committed the largest bank scam in the recent times are endeavouring to hide themselves behind high profile petitions with the aim of hijacking the case registered against them for commission of fraud with public money.”
The whore lawyers went on to argue that the NAB was going beyond it’s mandate by investigating the case:
Haris Steel Mills counsel questions NAB powers
ISLAMABAD, Oct 20 (APP): A counsel defending Haris Steel Mills at the Islamabad High Court raised questions Monday regarding the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) mandate to investigate and frame criminal charges in a 9 billion rupees loan case. A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Sardar Mohammad Aslam and Justice Raja Saeed Akram heard five related cases which had been remanded by the Supreme Court on September 15 from the Lahore High Court (LHC).
The for Haris Steel Mills Sharifuddin Pirzada concluded his arguments and the bench will resume the hearing on Tuesday.
Pirzada strongly objected to modus operandi of NAB and said it had no authority to carry out investigation in such a manner.
He alleged that NAB had broken lockers in the Haris Steels office and took away Rs 430 million and later another amount of Rs 27 million as well.
Dr Babar Awan advocate also appeared before the bench as the counsel for Haris Steel Mills. He would argue the case on Tuesday.
Advocate General Punjab Khawja Haris, Chaudhry Abdul Sattar senior Prosecutor National Accountability Court, Arif Tasleem Assistant Chief Manager Bank of Punjab, Deputy Attorney General Amjad Iqbal Qureshi and others also appeared before the court.
The court was apprised that an application had been submitted to the Supreme Court to transfer other four related cases to IHC.
NAB has already submitted that it had the authority to investigate a loan of Rs 9 billion to Haris Steel Mills granted by the Bank of Punjab.
It said that the loan restructured by the bank did not include reference of Governor State Bank and the NAB could investigate it under NAB section 31 (D).
Under Article 181, the Supreme Court had assumed powers after the promulgation of PCO to transfer any case from one High Court to other, it added.
The NAB claimed that the whole transaction was a criminal act as loan was obtained on the basis of fake documents involving five bank officers.
The worth of property was shown as Rs 20 billion for obtaining loan while the investigation revealed that it was no more than Rs 40 million, it added.
NAB also claimed outstanding amount of Rs 10 billion against the respondents and said the Bank of Punjab had also admitted before the LHC that only through NAB they would be able to recover the outstanding amount.
On September 15, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar had announced a detailed judgment in the loan matter of Rs 9 billion granted by the Bank of Punjab to Haris Steel Mills, and transferred the case from the LHC to the IHC.
However, the court while announcing the detailed judgment in the case had ruled out that as the process of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore was not well, therefore the case and other related cases were being transferred to the IHC for further hearing.
The SC had not only allowed shifting of the case from the LHC but also clubbed four other petitions.
Of course the Dogar SC Obliged and did one better by moving the case to Islamabad High Court (IHC), the most illegitimate courts of all — created for such specific ‘fixing’ by the order of Musharraf — with the most illegitimate CJ — CJ Bilal:
SC orders transfer of BoP scam case to IHC
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD, Sept 15: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the transfer of pending proceedings in the Rs9 billion Bank of Punjab (BoP) scam from the Lahore High Court to the Islamabad High Court with an observation that the conduct and behaviour of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore seemed not above board.
A three-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Justice Ijazul Hassan and Chaudhry Ejaz Yousaf, while announcing its judgment on a petition of the Haris Steel Industries against the NAB, ordered to entrust all pending cases before the LHC to the IHC for disposal on merit.
Senior advocate Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Wasim Sajjad and Senator Babar Awan had filed a petition in the apex court on behalf of the Haris Steel Industries, pleading for shifting of the hearing of the BoP scam case by exercising powers conferred to the apex court through P.O. No. 5 of 2007 by former president Pervez Musharraf.
The powers were delegated to the Supreme Court by amending Article 186-A of the Constitution to transfer any of the pending cases from any high court to its own file….
I had written earlier:
The main culprit — owner of Harris Steel — happens to live close by. They own 4 2-kanal houses here in DHA (one is for cars alone and one is where his dogs live — I am not kidding). Recently he and his family were allowed to escape the country and are in Malaysia right now but there business are still doing business here as usual. A Dawn report had claimed police had siezed 21 of his vehicles including a Ferrari, a BMW, a Range Rover, etc. but I doubt it as all their cars are still at their house. The teenage son Haris — ergo ‘Haris Steel’ — drives around a Porsche 911 turbo cabriolet, among others and is followed around by a Landrover or two full of armed guards.
BTW: Here’s a laugher:
“A big loan to a steel competitor is the real reason for the sudden dissolution of board of directors of the Bank of Punjab and removal of its president, well-informed sources said on Monday….The action against the Bank of Punjab was not totally wrong as the bank extended loans to the steel group on political grounds, which turned into bad loans,” said a senior banker.
I guess this is what Haramzada and Wasim Sajjad were going to be arguing….(And shame on Dawn for presenting these LIES as ‘facts’.)
Update: From Malaysia they went back to Dubai and are now back in Pakistan after having reached a deal with Mr. Zardari. I hear Zardari took Rs. 3 Billion as his share. Of course the news about confiscation of property and exotic cars also seems to have been all false. They never lost possession of their cars or their houses as I myself am a witness. It should also be noted that PM Gillani has just acquired two houses right next to their houses that I am told are “gifts from a well-wisher”. I think the identity of that well-wisher is none other than the Haris Steel guy. AG Latif Khosa is also one of their neighbors and I am sure he his is finger in this pie somewhere.
AITZAZ JUMPS IN WITH HIS PIG BROTHERS
Some things to remember:
- 1. Aitzaz had stated during the Lawyers Movement that he would never appear before the court of CJ Iftikar Chaudhry
2. With the judiciary restored, it has upset the balance of the IHC and the lawyers for Haris Steel/BoP and the high-profile lawyers are no longer confident of having their way with the case.
So what do they do? Thinking they have a better chance in SC, they moved a petition once again to transfer the case to SC saying they no longer trusted IHC and hired Aitzaz, who accepted the job enthusiastically. Aitzaz sent eyes popping not only by joining this team but trying a new trick: He tried to to put his public commitment about not appearing before the CJ IMC on it’s head by trying to have the CJ himself removed from the case since he was the lawyer of the accused (and spinning it as if this was his way of keeping the promise.
The good thing is the Chief Justice did not oblige Aitzaz and his trick fell flat, leaving him with this face-saver:
I did not supersede anybody as it was a fresh petition. But since the chief justice has decided to continue to head the bench, I will not appear in this case.
But it is clear to every one now that “Aitzaz Ahsan has been engaged to get the case transferred from the bench headed by the chief justice to some other bench in order to get a favourable judgment because of his influence”:
Dispelling pernicious perception of why not hire a judge instead of a lawyer, Aitzaz vowed he would never appear before SC CJ.
Following the courts competing with each other in giving relief to Sharif brothers by speedily acquitting/exonerating them from earlier convictions in series of cases and paving the way for another NRO for consolidation of democracy in the country, unfortunately, gave rise to a vicious general perception about the mastermind Aitzaz Ahsan ghost writing the judgments, especially those related to the Sharifs.
Hurriedly dispelling this damaging perception both for him and the courts, Aitzaz, while deciding to represent the Haris Steel, the main accused in the multi-billion rupee scam of the Bank of Punjab (BoP), made public his commitment that he would never appear before the Supreme Court Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry because of his known association with him, while leading the lawyers’ movement, which had ultimately culminated into SC CJ and other judges’re-instatement.
But the country’s top judge heading the bench to hear this case did not find much weight in the top lawyer’s plea that the case already fixed before the bench headed by the chief justice should be shifted to some other bench because the accused party had engaged Aitzaz Ahsan to defend it.
On June 14, the Haris Steel appointed Aitzaz Ahsan as its counsel who, through his junior lawyer Shaukat Ali Javed, requested the chief justice during June 15 hearing that the case may be transferred to some other bench. The chief justice observed that Aitzaz could appear before his bench, if he wanted to argue the case. The next hearing will be held on June 29.
Some wagging tongues suggest Aitzaz Ahsan has been engaged to get the case transferred from the bench headed by the chief justice to some other bench in order to get a favourable judgment because of his influence.
Our judicial history is replete with such anomalies that readily give rise to misgivings, often very hurting, isn’t it? What do you think?
Another interesting question raised is:
How did Rs. 13 Billion scam drop back down to Rs. 9 Billion scam?
Where did the Rs. 4 Billion go? Like I said, Rs. 3 Billion is said to have gone to Zardari which leaves us with Rs. 1 Billion still missing. We know a part of it will be shared by Haywan, Waseen Sajjad, Haramzada, Asteen Ka Saanp Ahsan. Just curious about Gillanis share. Is it what paid for the two new houses and two Rs. 600,00,000 cars? Is it what is also paying for such generocity:
‘Azizi’ wins PM’s ‘$50,000’ watch
LAHORE: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has gifted his wristwatch to renowned comedian and stage actor Sohail Ahmed, Dunya News reported on Tuesday. According to the channel, the media released news reports a few days ago regarding the prime minister’s watch, which reportedly cost $50,000. In one of his shows, Ahmed had talked about Gilani’s watch, the channel said, adding that Gilani sent the watch to the actor along with a letter saying that he watched Ahmed’s programme with great interest and was sending him the watch. daily times monitor