Panama beneficiary makes hay at public expense | Pakistan Today

Panama beneficiary makes hay at public expense

–OGDCL chairman appoints blue-eyed official as CFO

ISLAMABAD: If nepotism, favouritism and abuse of power had any face, it would be Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) where corrupt and crook officials have not only found refuge but have also employed blue-eyed comrades to make hey on the expense of the taxpayers’ money.

The case of Irteza Ali Qureshi, a prominent figure emerged in Panama Papers scandal is one example. Qureshi has been hired as the chief financial officer by OGDCL Chairman Zahid Muzaffar despite the fact that Qureshi has no prior experience of working in any oil and gas exploration company or oil industry.

Despite the fact that the name of Qureshi was featured in the Panama Papers back in April 2016 as the director of Casa Verona Holdings Limited, OGDCL did not take any action against him. Rather, his salary was increased after his name surfaced in the Panama Papers as Qureshi acted as the director of Casa Verona  Holdings Limited from July 16, 2007, and has been identified as ‘active’ till today, says the data available on the ICIJ website.

An official at the Ministry of Petroleum confirmed that the name of Qureshi had been featured in the Panama Papers but the ministry did not take any action “due to pressure from the high-ups”.

Qureshi has been hired on the sole criteria of being a blue-eyed of OGDCL chairman in blatant disregard of merit and fair play causing irreparable damage to the national exchequer. Qureshi, who previously worked at Tapal Tea, was hired on March 9, 2015, on a hefty salary of around Rs1.9 million (Rs18,99,998) per month which included basic pay of Rs12,25,806 with house rent allowance of Rs5,51,612  and utilities worth Rs1,22,580 per month.

According to the contractual agreement, Letter No.R/01-05/105-CEO/2015, Qureshi was given a contract of three years from the date of joining and extendable with mutual consent. TA/DA, medical facilities, company vehicle, bonus among other benefits were also part of the contract.

However, to the shock of many, Qureshi has also availed annual increments despite the fact that contractual employees are not entitled to this facility.

According to another document, Qureshi’s gross salary has been increased from Rs1.5 million to Rs2.5 million in mere three years other than bonuses. Qureshi has obtained Rs42 million (Rs42.214649) as salary to date. However, interestingly, while CFO has been hired against a hefty amount, a separate post of executive director finance has been created to appoint Rehan Laiq who looks after the financial affairs of the company. Thereby, reflecting that either Qureshi or Rehan has been accommodated in the company on the taxpayer’s money.

Sources in the Ministry of Petroleum claim that Irteza is being paid a hefty amount for doing nothing for the organisation because he is the blue-eyed of the OGDCL chairman. Moreover, the OGDCL board has given a two-year extension to Qureshi with a five percent increase in salary as is recommended by the management.

On June 30, Qureshi is set to obtain another increment of 15 per cent on completion of the financial year along with four bonuses on the pattern of regular employees. Despite repeated contacts and messages sent at his cell phone number, Qureshi chose not to respond to this scribe.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]



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