—CJP Nisar directs Karachi and Lahore accountability courts to wrap up case within two months
ISLAMABAD: Islamabad Police on Sunday arrested former chairman of National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL) Ayaz Khan Niazi after Supreme Court directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to arrest him in a mega corruption case.
A two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar was hearing a graft case pertaining to corruption in the NICL, in which as many as 11 people, including Ayaz Khan Niazi, Salman Ghani, Qasim Dadabhoi and late Pakistan People’s Party leader Makhdoom Amin Fahim, are accused of corruption.
Moreover, the former NICL chairman has been accused of abuse of his authority and impeding the investigation process regarding his appointment as well.
During the hearing, it was revealed that Niazi was granted bail in the case by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) back in 2014. However, the case was then handed over to the NAB, due to which bail given by the FIA had also become invalid.
Subsequently, the court ordered the police should arrest Niazi if he doesn’t have a bail from NAB. It also ordered the arrest of another prime suspect, Mohsin Warraich.
Following the court orders, the NAB ordered the Islamabad police to arrest Niazi from the court’s premises.
It further ordered the Karachi and Lahore accountability courts to wrap up the case within two months.
Earlier, this month the top court ordered NAB to submit a progress report on the steps taken to implement its 2013 judgment on NICL case.
Last year, following the revelations in a high-profile property purchase scam involving the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL), CEO Captain (retd) Jamil Akhtar Khan had asked the FIA to reopen the billion rupees worth case.
Sources in the commerce ministry had informed that the NICL chief asked the FIA for a probe following a new valuation report by Land Sterling – a British chartered surveyor and property consultant that provides valuation services for commercial and residential property in the Middle East and North Africa.
They said the courts were misled to save some high-profile figures of the company [NICL].
Reports disclosed that the NICL had purchased property in Dubai some eight years ago and paid an amount 159 per cent above the market value. The Dubai property comprises six office units of various sizes with a gross area of 27,429 square feet and total sellable area of 22,024 square feet at Liberty House, Dubai International Financial Centre.
As per the report, in July 2009 the value of six office units was just 28.8 million dirham (AED), equivalent to Rs633 million approximately. However, the then-NICL management had bought these office units for AED74.05 million, or Rs1.63 billion, causing a loss of roughly Rs1 billion in just one deal.
The Land Sterling valuation report further revealed that even in December 2016 – seven and a half years after the Dubai deal – the market value of the property was only AED42.765 million, which is still 42.2 per cent lesser than the 2009 purchase price.
Earlier, NAB and FIA had investigated the case.
In December 2014, an accountability court had acquitted former NICL chairman Ayaz Khan Niazi and five others in this scam. The court had acquitted the accused persons after a report was submitted to the court that AED74.05 million was the prevailing market price of the six flats in 2009.
The other accused persons were Amin Qasim Dada, Muhammad Zahoor, Zahid Hussain, Navid Hasan Zaidi, and Hur Gardezi.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had taken suo motu notice of the case after it was alleged that against a market price of AED1,200 per square foot, the NICL management bought the office space in Dubai at AED2,700 per square foot, causing a loss of Rs900 million.