Mystery shrouds fraudulent transfers of Royal Palm Club memberships

— Members left in shock as their memberships sold without their consent or intimation

 — Suspected transfers made under PTI regime

LAHORE: Some former and current management staff of Royal Palm Golf and Country Club (RPGCC), both at the junior and senior levels, had sold premium membership of unsuspecting members and fake affidavits were allegedly used to sell the membership without the consent or knowledge of original holders of the membership, Pakistan Today has reliably learnt reliably.

RPGCC memberships are easily purchasable from either the club or the secondary market in the form of fresh or existing memberships, respectively. Original transferable memberships cost between Rs1.3 million while non-transferable memberships can be purchased for Rs 900,000. Exiting memberships that can be transferred sell for close to prevalent fresh membership rates in secondary market.

It is to be noted that RPGCC charges Rs130, 000 for transfers to any member looking to sell his/her membership to a willing buyer. The remainder of the selling price is paid by the buyer directly to the seller, and the club is not involved in this latter part of the transaction and negotiation of price.

According to sources at RPGCC, in order to avoid suspicion, the illegally transferred memberships were fully charged and received by the club from secondary market buyers and documentation to reflect the same, prepared.

It is pertinent to mention that back in 2019, during PTI’s tenure, the apex court had directed to hand over the Royal Palm Golf and Country Club to Pakistan Railways after nullifying the previous contract. The club happens to be the Railways’ only profit-making entity.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan had issued the verdict at the Supreme Court Lahore Registry. The court ordered the Railways administration to handle all the affairs of the Royal Palm Golf and Country Club and to determine rules and regulations regarding the new management in three months.

The order further directed Pakistan Railways to float international tender for Royal Palm Country Club. Reportedly, two local companies, namely Hashoo Group and Habib Rafiq Group are bidding for the club and the process is in its final stage.

Sources in Pakistan Railways have alleged that some officials at the club management marked some sleeping members and prepared their fake affidavits for transfer of their membership.

The RPGCC charges all its members Rs6000 per month as a fixed service charge for using club’s facilities and no member is exempted from paying the monthly fee. Some members opt to ‘freeze’ their memberships if they plan to stop using the club facilities for an extended period of time, which means that they cannot use any facilities but must pay Rs. 3000 monthly charge instead of the full Rs 6000 per month.

The suspects at the management marked the members who had neither frozen, nor paid their dues for multiple months and had amassed hefty arrears to the club. According to the RPGCC, around 150 such members who had not paid any charge for multiple years were marked and their memberships had been cancelled and they were also informed about the cancellation.

However, as per the club sources, around four memberships were simply transferred without intimation to the original owner. One such member, who wished to remain anonymous, told Pakistan Today that he had lined up a buyer for his membership who was willing to clear all arrears and pay the market price, but upon approaching the club after almost a year of not visiting at all, he was informed that his membership had been sold.

“I have visited the club multiple times, wrote to them and messaged them over WhatsApp but they are simply unwilling to help me and aren’t providing any information or updates on my case either. The membership is my asset but it has been sold without my approval. This is simply identity theft,” the member said.

“It is obvious that this work was not done by a single person but it was done with the connivance of Shahrukh Khan who was appointed as Advisor for Railway Affairs in the previous regime. Khan’s appointment was controversial as he was a US-returned associate of then Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati and was overly interested in club affairs”, the source claimed.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many members had stopped visiting the club. Meanwhile some specific persons of the club management took advantage of this opportunity and prepared fake affidavits of such members. Even the dues of such members were also paid by the said specific persons and memberships were sold. Since the premium membership of the club is quite expensive, the suspects must have got a hefty amount as commission,” the sources added.

Sources also claimed that the membership of such members could not be restored as the present Railways Minister and Railway Chief Executive Officer are not serious in solving the issue. Despite repeated efforts, Pakistan Today was unable to get a comment from either senior official of Pakistan Railways.

However, when contacted, Head of Services Department of Royal Palm Golf and Country Club, Ismat Zahra, confirmed that some members’ memberships were sold without their consent, but refrained from commenting exactly who was behind these transfers.

“It is not usually the case that a membership is sold without consent, but a couple of such cases was definitely highlighted and are being investigated,” she said.

When Zahra was asked what happened to these cases, she replied that these cases have been forwarded to the concerned authority, i.e. Pakistan Railways.

“We have a management committee consisting of ten to eleven higher officials of Pakistan Railways. This issue is also being looked into internally. We have to conclude this matter with legal advisors as there is no fault of the concerned members and their membership will be restored,” she maintained.

Regarding the membership transfer procedure, Zahra informed that an affidavit is taken from the seller and if he has not given an affidavit of selling his membership to a specific person, then his physical presence is mandatory.

“In addition, the seller and buyer’s photographs are also kept on record. We have recently made some amendments to the procedure in which the buyer is also interviewed by the club management. Membership is neither canceled nor transferred due to non-payment of dues,” she continued.

“However, an FIR will be lodged against the specific person and legal notices will be sent and proper procedure will be followed. We have two types of memberships”, she concluded.

Spokesperson of Pakistan Railways, Babar Raza, stated that the matter is under consideration and will be resolved as soon as possible.

Shahab Omer
Shahab Omer
The writer is a member of the staff and can be reached on [email protected]


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