–NAB seeks details of foreign travels of former finance minister and ex-IT minister
ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has extended the scope of investigation against former finance minister Ishaq Dar, ex-state minister for information technology Anusha Rehman, the former Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) chairman and a PTA member regarding the auction of 3G and 4G licenses, it has been reliably learnt.
According to details, NAB has extended the scope of the investigation and also sought help from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to submit details of foreign travel of Ishaq Dar, Anusha Rehman, PTA ex-chairman Dr Ismail Shah, PTA Member Telecom Muddasir Hussain and Shabbir Ahmed under sections 19 and 27 of the NAB ordinance, 1999.
It is also learnt that NAB has been investigating Anusha Rehman against accumulating assets beyond her known sources of income.
As per a copy of NAB’s letter sent to FIA’s Integrated Border Management System (IBMS) project director, NAB has been investigating the corruption in the illegal award of 3G and 4G licences after it was transpired in the initial inquiry that 3G and 4G licences to specific companies were awarded at specified rates.
According to NAB officials, the PTA initiated the process of auction of 3G and 4G in April 2014 and set a reserve price on the demand of the participating telecom companies (telcos). They said that open bidding was adopted for the auction of the licences. After open bidding, one licence of 4G and three licenses for 3G were granted while the bidders totally offered $1.12 billion for getting these licences.
Sources in the telecom sector disclosed that the national exchequer had suffered a heavy loss in the auction of 3G and 4G licences while telecom companies earned billion rupees in profit after the IT Ministry, PTA and telcos allegedly affected the auction process.
Similarly, PTA had awarded another 4G license at a price of $295m on May 19, 2017. They said the former PTA chairman had frequently received instructions from Anusha Rehman during the process of award of 3G and 4G licences. It is also alleged that the PTA, instead of ensuring transparency and competition, remained dependent on the IT Ministry. The process of transparency in the auction could not be maintained allegedly due to Anusha’s involvement, sources claimed.
They further said that the ex-state minister had appointed blue-eyed officials to allegedly protect the interest of telcos in the award of the licences.
However, determination of Ishaq Dar’s role in the award of 3G and 4G will be a difficult task as the former federal cabinet had granted approval to kickoff the auction process.