Scams and frauds worth billions of rupees by our leaders have become extremely common now days. Whereever you go, which ever channel you turn to there is mention of one scam or another. From the hudaibiya paper mill to NICL to the Hajj scam to the ephedrine drug scam, we have a whole portfolio of scams that can dwarf any insider trading yields or Ponzi schemes of the west.

And this is why I’m beginning a series of blog posts about big scams of the recent past.

By the way let me make one thing very clear, I have a strong feeling that these people – acquitted or otherwise – are probably GUILTY!!!!

The NICL Scandal (aka Bollywood Masala ) from the 80’s

The first one that I have chosen to write about is the NICL scandal. I chose this specific incident because Mr. Monis Elahi – the main accused – is the son of Pervaiz Elahi, both of whom are members of the opposition. It takes guts to face a trial when you and your father are in the opposition and not the ruling party. Don’t you think?

This scam has all the ingredients of a typical Bollywood movie. The suspect is on the loose (abroad), the witnesses retract written statements, the officer in charge is removed and the bad guy goes freeeeeeeeeee…

Oh yes, back to the scam!

Well to summarize, Mr. Monis Elahi was accused of buying some land at an extremely cheap price and selling it to the NICL for billions, making an estimated PKR 320 million!

The scam was dug out by one Zafar Qureshi, former Additional DG FIA, who was suspended from duty due to political intervention and then reinstated by the Supreme Court after which he finally retired. Monis Elahi’s involvement was unearthed when a pay order of PKR 12 million (out of a total of 28 million), for the purchase of a 3,630 square yard plot, was found to belong to Muhammad Afzal a front man for Monis Elahi. This land was then sold to the NICL at Rs53 million per kanal.

In the beginning Mr. Monis Elahi refused to come back to Pakistan citing various reasons, but eventually he did return. More than likely he agreed to return because all the right strings had been pulled by his father by then. This is evident by the fact that Zafar Qureshi repeatedly voiced his concern about noncooperation of his seniors and the hurdles that were put in place during his investigation. He could not get the case concluded before he retired but warned the DG FIA and interior secretary that unless an independent special prosecutor was appointed the onus of accused’s acquittal would be on his seniors.

During the proceedings, a Mohammad Malik (based on whose statements Monis Elahi was taken into custody by the FIA) and others who had given statements to indict Monis Elahi retracted their statements and said that FIA officials pressurized them to get those statements. The FIA however, in their interim charge sheet declared that Monis Elahi was guilty of embezzlement.

But, as is the norm with all other high profile NRO cases being handled by NAB, after Mr. Qureshi’s retirement, “friendly” prosecutors took over and the case, without regards to the nature of evidence, was disposed and Monis Elahi was acquitted.

This acquittal from a lower court came at a time when the Supreme Court had set a hearing regarding the case just days later. *Sigh*! How power and money makes a mockery of our loophole riddled justice system.

The case has now been picked up by the Supreme Court and the matter is again sub-judice…so no comments on that!!! I just hope that the bad guy is put behind bars this time around. Chief Justice, BRO, hope you’re listening?!

(Image Courtesy of : BigStockPhoto)