HYDERABAD-The Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) on Thursday produced former Deputy Commissioner Matiari Adnan Rashid before Anti-Corruption Court here while the court handed him over to Anti-Corruption police on a 7-day remand for further investigation about embezzlement of the amount of Rs. 2.14 billion.
The anti-corruption police had arrested the former DC on November 17 for alleged misappropriation of over 2 billion rupees of funds provided by the NHA for the purchase of land for the Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway. The lawyer of the former deputy commissioner told the court that his client was being tortured, on which the court directed the LUH MS to submit the medical report of the accused within three days.
According to the sources, based on the information received as a result of the investigation of the accused Adnan Rashid, a raid was conducted at the DC office in Matiari, from where a Land Cruiser and cash were recovered.
Meanwhile, the Sindh government suspended a day before the Naushahro Feroze Deputy Commissioner Tashfeen Alam, who was involved in suspicious transactions of over Rs2 billion funds meant for acquiring land for M6 Sukkur-Hyderabad motorway project, four days after the officer flew away to Azerbaijan.
The officer had reportedly gone abroad on Nov 19 and the provincial Services, General Administration and Coordination Department (SGA&CD) issued the suspension orders on Nov 22 while the federal Establishment Division was said to have suspended Alam for 120 days according to a notification that went viral on Thursday.
Sources said that a charge-sheet was to be communicated to the officer as per Nov 22 notification after the government received report of the committee it had formed to scrutinize record on the alleged suspicious transactions of funds the National Highway Authority had given for land acquisition for M6 project.
The notification said the DC had disappeared from office and Shaheed Benazirabad divisional commissioner had reported to the SGA&CD that the officer had not attended his official duties for past four days.
The committee headed by Sajjad Hyder, director general of Labour Sindh; with Tariq Shah, director general of Training, Management and Research, and Umar Farooq Bullo, a senior officer, as members was probing the matter in Naushahro Feroze.
The sources said that the DC had appointed himself as Land Acquisition Officer (LAO), a task which was mostly assigned to assistant commissioner concerned, for acquisition of land. According to initial reports, 850 landowners were given payment in cash through bank after their lands were acquired under Land Acquisition Act 1894.
“Serious procedural violations are clear like payment in cash to landowners. According to NHA officials they have not received any copy of the award so far from the office concerned that indicates as if the award has perhaps not been passed here too like Matiari,” said an official. The payments for the land acquisition were being made in Naushahro Feroze since June 2022, said the sources.
“A lump sum amount was passed for the award (of payments) although it was always passed separately in favour of each khatedar,” said a source. The amount of over Rs2bn had been withdrawn on eight different dates since June 2022, said the source.
“The DC got himself notified as LAO for the entire district which was not needed,” said the source.
The bank officials informed the committee that biometrics of the khatedars were carried out in the bank.
The Benazirabad division commissioner had seized record on the land acquisition in Naushahro Feroze. The bank management told the committee that landowners had visited the bank along with their national identity cards to receive the cash payments,” said the official.
Matiari M6 inquiry
The Sindh government’s inquiry committee on motorway project visited Matiari district to probe and fix responsibility on officials and losses caused to government exchequer.
Sources disclosed that the committee members met the khatedars who received cash payments for land acquisition. “The khatedars have told the committee that they received cash payments at Matiari DC’s house instead of assistant commissioner’s office,” said a source privy to the committee.
The committee learnt that four private persons, Aslam, Rehmatullah, Illahi Bux and Asghar Jatoi, were involved in the scam. “Rehmatullah posed himself as NHA representative though he was a front-man of one the four persons.
Rehmatullah has some connection to Naushahro Feroze as well but he was not working for NHA,” said a source.
A close associate of Makhdoom family, Aslam Pirzado, had also reportedly obtained pre-arrest bail in connection with the case to which Makhdoom Jamiluzzaman had objected that Pirzado should not have obtained bail.
Over a dozen persons met the committee which learnt that Rs500m-Rs550m were paid to different landowners in Matiari.
“It is, however, not yet known where the remaining amount has gone because actually Rs2.14bn have been withdrawn from Sindh Bank’s Saeedabad branch for payment to khatedars,” said the source.
Meanwhile, the FIA has recommended to put names of the accused of M-6 fund misappropriation in the Exit Control List (ECL)on Thursday.
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Sindh in a letter to the FIA Immigration Islamabad has recommended to keep the names of the accused in motorway M-6 funds scam in the ECL.
Deputy Commissioner Naushehro Feroz Tashfeen Alam, DC Matiari Adnan Rashid, Assistant Commissioner New Saeedabad Mansoor Abbasi and branch manager Sindh Bank Mir Mohammad Suhag have been included in the list of the accused.
Earlier, the National Highway Authority (NHA) had sought details of the misappropriated motorway funds from the Sindh government.
A fact-finding committee of the NHA also visited Matiari and Naushehro Feroz districts. The committee members held meetings with the real owners of the land and sought details from them, sources said.
The highway authority had also demanded of the provincial government to handover the matter to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for inquiry into the scam.
The amount was released by the NHA to deputy commissioners for procurement of land for construction of the M-6 motorway from Hyderabad to Sukkur.
DC Naushehro Feroz Tashfeen Alam has been in hiding and the Sindh government has constituted a team for his arrest.
According to documents, the National Highway Authority had released an amount of Rs. 4.09 billion to DC Matiari for purchase of the land for the motorway. The accused drawn Rs1.82 billion cash from bank for procurement of land for 70 kilometers of the road.
An amount of Rs four billion was transferred to another account by the accused and earned 540 million rupees profit. AC New Saeedabad paid cash to the landowners instead of cheques, according to case papers.