Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Via Dawn - ‘COAS green-lighted NAB action in DHA Valley scam’

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif had green-lighted stern action against retired military officers and civilians involved in the Rs62 billion Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Valley scam around six months ago, sources in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) have told Dawn.

A top NAB officer said on condition of anonymity that a senior military official had called on NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry in July last year and assured him of the army’s full support to the bureau in investigating the matter.

The NAB chief was informed that the COAS was determined that no-one should be spared in the investigation, even army officials.

“The message Gen Sharif conveyed to the NAB chairman was that no-one involved in the scam should be spared and action should be taken, even if his own brothers are found to have links to the scam,” an official privy to the meeting said.

Gen Kayani’s brothers release statement exonerating former army chief from any liability in their businesses
NAB has recently started flexing its muscles against Bahria Town chief Malik Riaz, brothers of former army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and some DHA officials. Now, it is looking into irregularities in the construction of the DHA Valley scheme -- meant for families of military personnel who were killed in the line of duty -- which was to be built on Punjab government land at the site of the Dadhocha Dam, near Rawat.

When contacted, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) declined to comment on the matter. However, it has been widely reported that the management of DHA has formally filed a complaint with NAB, asking it to investigate the matter.

The NAB source said that during their meeting, the military official had inquired about a NAB investigation into a complaint, submitted by retired Lt-Col Mohammad Tariq Kamal in Sept 2010. The complaint alleged that the DHA Valley real estate project was being developed on an area reserved for the proposed Dadhocha Dam. Following the verification of the complaint on June 13, 2011, the bureau had authorised an inquiry on July 3, 2012.

The NAB chairman had, at the time, indicated that former army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s brothers and other retired army officials were implicated. At this, the source claimed, the military officer told the NAB chief that Gen Sharif wanted a just investigation and that no-one should be spared.

The case was later tried by the Supreme Court and a two-judge bench headed by Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja heard the petition on July 16, 2015. In addition to demanding an explanation from NAB, the court also asked the Punjab government to respond to the petitioner’s allegations.

The petition claimed that DHA, Bahria Town and a private construction firm Habib Rafique had entered into a contract to develop various housing schemes including DHA Valley, DHA Phase II Extension, DHA Expressway and DHA Villas in Rawalpindi, as a joint venture (JV).

According to the petitioner’s evaluation, DHA Valley was valued at Rs110 billion, DHA Phase II Extension at Rs70 billion, DHA Expressway at Rs50 billion and DHA Villas at Rs100 billion. DHA-I and DHA-II are already-developed housing societies, but DHA Valley is yet to be developed.

According to NAB investigation, those who had paid for plots in DHA Valley found themselves in an awkward position when, in 2009 DHA transferred all the funds it had been paid (Rs62 billion) to the accounts of Bahria Town, which eventually failed to develop the scheme. Those cheated out of their money included 110,000 civilians, 41,000 serving and retired military officers, jawans and families of martyrs.

Gen Kiyani's brothers respond
Also on Sunday, retired Brig Amjad Parvez Kayani issued a statement, claiming that the former army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had nothing to do with the actions and business interests of his brothers.

“Rather than talking about us as individuals, a reference is always made to Gen Kayani, as if he sponsored and facilitated us in everything we did or did not do. Everything under the sun is attributed to us without a shred of lawful or even raw evidence, departmental records or proof. These allegations are baseless. Gen Kayani never, in any way, sponsored or facilitated our business interests,” the statement said.

Brig Amjad claimed that his brother Kamran Kayani, an accused in the DHA City Lahore scam, was not a partner in the JV between DHA Lahore and Eden Private Limited, nor did he facilitate a deal between the two in favour of EDEN City. “In this JV, DHA Lahore is the senior partner and all plots/files which were marketed would have been issued by DHA and no-one else (including Kamran Kayani),” he said.

Kamran Kayani also has no connections with another JV, signed in 2009 between DHA Islamabad and Elysium. “Ownership of the Elysium was clearly established in a Supreme Court’s decision, which ordered EOBI to return 50 plots to Elysium and the company to pay back Rs1 billion to EOBI. The decision of the Supreme Court was implemented,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2016



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