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LAHORE: A few days after the federal Finance ministry expressed its complete ignorance about the whereabouts of Rs 821 billion that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) claimed to have recovered and deposited into the national exchequer, the anti white-collar crime agency has claimed that a major chunk of the amount was recovered under the head of “indirect recoveries” which had been handed over to quarters concerned directly.

According to statistics released by NAB Lahore on Wednesday, the bureau said it has so far recovered a total of Rs 821.573 billion from corrupt elements till September 2021 since its inception.

Giving the breakdown of the recoveries, the NAB said the biggest recovery was made under the head of indirect recovery (Rs 500.650 billion), followed by Rs 198.057 billion from bank defaulters, Rs 45.914 billion from court fines and Rs 76.952 billion from plea bargains/voluntary returns.

The report said that the amount recovered under the indirect recoveries had been handed over to the quarters concerned directly i.e., owners, claimants and entities etc. About the Rs 198 billion, the report said that this amount was recovered from financial institutions such as PCBL which had been realized and credited to the respective institutions.

The report further said that the accused had been availing the option of voluntary return/plea bargain under section 25 of NAO 1999 during the course of inquiries or investigations but the Supreme Court had barred the bureau from exercising the power of voluntary returns under vide petition No 17/2016.

Of the Rs 76.952 billion recovery, the report said that Rs 54.902 billion were recovered in shape of cash while the rest of the recovery was “in-kind”. Moreover, Rs 46.22 billion has already been disbursed to the respective federal and provincial governments and concerned entities, it added.

On last Wednesday, Additional Finance Secretary Tanveer Butt had testified before the Senate Standing Committee on Finance that his ministry was completely unaware of Rs 821 billion non-tax revenue, expect Rs 6.458 billion, over the past 16 years on account of NAB recoveries.

Butt said the Finance ministry was unaware as to where the remaining amount went and was being utilised. He claimed that the finance ministry could not ask NAB about the remaining Rs 815 billion. The money was not being deposited in government accounts. It is not known in which account the NAB had deposited the recovery of Rs 821 billion, he added.

Surprised to know about the massive gap in the claims and the actual funds received by the national treasury, the committee had decided to seek help from the auditor general of Pakistan for a special audit. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had also demanded formation of a parliamentary committee to investigate the recovery claim of the NAB.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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