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SC directs action against OPF officials involved in embezzlement of funds for Iraq-Kuwait war affectees.

ISLAMABAD, July 08, 2009 (Balochistan Times) -- The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to take action against the officials of Oversees Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) allegedly involved in embezzlement of the funds for the affectees of Iraq-Kuwait war and submit report within one month.A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing a suo moto case regarding non-payment of compensation money to the affectees of 1992 Iraq-Kuwait war. The court directed the National Accountability Bureau to recover funds from OPF officer Khawaja Mustafa and clerk Irshad Hussain and take action against five other officials of the Foundation, subordinate staff, agents and submit the report to the court.The court also directed Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to resolve the issue of Rs 150 million collected under the head of income tax from the affectees funds in light of the provisions of Income Tax Act 1979. Managing Director OPF, Prosecutor General NAB Dr Danishwar Malik, Deputy Prosecutor General Dr Asghar Rana and Investigation Officer of the NAB Col Niaz appeared before the court.Counsel for the OPF, Hassan Aurangzeb informed the court that in compliance with the directives of the Supreme Court, OPF received 22543 fresh claims, among which 6634 claimants had already been paid by the UN Commission for Affectees of Iraq-Kuwait war. He said, 13390 claims had already been forwarded to the UN Commission but were rejected while 2493 fresh claims were registered, which could not be processed as the said Commission had closed the process.He said that the OPF still had US $ 800,000 to be paid to the affectees. He rejected the impression that the UN Commission had paid US $ 100,000 to each victim of the war, instead the Commission issued compensation money in three different categories after examining each individual claim. He also informed the court that departmental enquiry was underway against four official of the Foundation. Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmad enquired as to why the OPF could not take action against its official Khalid Mustafa, adding that the Foundations officials were accusing one another while people were suffering.Prosecutor General NAB Dr Danishwar Malik informed the court that according to the Bureaus investigation, Rs 840 million could be recovered from the OPF officials. He said that OPF had earned profit worth Rs 620 million and FBR had collected Rs 150 million income tax on that profit. Investigation Officer of the case, Col Niaz informed the court that investigations were nderway against the OPFs Director Welfare and Service Division Saif ur Rehman, Director Admin Habib ur Rehman, Joint Director Khawaja Mustafa, Assistant Director M A Mushtaq, Welfare Officer Anjum Sidiq Nagra, Clerk Irshad Hussain, Account Assistant Sajid Amin and Machine Operator Muhammad Akhtar. He further informed that investigation were underway against Saif ur Rehman for forwarding only 8067 claims out of the total 29,000 claims, among which 37 claims were fake. Enquiry was being conducted against Khalid Mustafa for an alleged embezzlement of Rs 600,000. Clerk Irshad Hussain performed as middleman between the agents and the officers of OPF and has confessed of receiving Rs 5 million from the agents, he added. The NABs Investigation Officer said that a banker Raja Kamran Yousuf had also been traced out that used to open fake accounts. US $ 60,000 has been withdrawn from one of such fake accounts. He further stated that the State Bank had allowed the OPF for opening only one account for the affectees of war but the NAB traced its 36 accounts opened for the purpose. The NAB official requested the court to grant two months time for complete investigation but the court directed for recovery from Khawaja Mustafa and Irshad Hussain besides taking action against the other officials within one month.The court observed that the fresh claims could not be processed as the UN Commission had closed down the process and that the court could not issue any directives to the UN, there for a formula be devised for compensating the affectees. The court directed that the affectees would be compensated with the money recovered from the OPF officials and the profit accumulated over the funds available with the OPF while the FBR was directed to resolve the issue of Rs 150 million collected in income tax. The case was adjourned till August 24.

(THROUGH ASIA PULSE)
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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Date:Jul 8, 2009
Words:730
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