ISLAMABAD - The National Accountability Bureau in Sukkur has recovered Rs10.61 billion after inquiries into the Sindh Food Department regarding the theft of wheat worth Rs15.85 billion in the province.

According to documents available with The Nation, DG NAB Sukkur authorised 9 inquiries against officials of the Sindh Food Department and others on the allegations of misappropriation of wheat stock available at Provisional Reserve Centres (PRCs) in nine different districts, namely Sukkur, Larkana, Ghotki, Khairpur, Naushehro Feroze, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sanghar, Kashmore, Kandhkot and Kamber  and Shahdadkot.

Subsequently, separate teams conducted raids at the PRCs of the above-mentioned districts in presence of their respective Judicial Magistrates. It was discovered that 164,797 metric tons of wheat worth Rs. 5.355 billion were missing at different PRCs.

During the course of the investigation various accused persons, including mill owners, have applied for a plea bargain under section 25(b) of NAO 1999 and have agreed to return the amount of Rs. 2.112 billion. Their plea bargain applications have been approved by the Accountability Court in Sukkur.

164,797 metric tons of wheat found missing

Moreover, during the course of investigations it was also revealed that 1000 tons of wheat was dispatched to government owned warehouses in Karachi from the abovementioned districts.

In this regard, the relevant record was obtained from concerned districts and Karachi warehouses. The record revealed that 22,044 metric tons of wheat, worth Rs. 745.680 million, was dispatched to Karachi but it did not reach Karachi. The said wheat was allegedly embezzled by the officials of the Food Department and others.

In addition to this, NAB Sukkur has also conducted inquiries against the officers of Food Department Sukkur and Khairpur and flour mill owners on the allegations of releasing the wheat stock on 180 days credit basis, where the flour mill owners did not pay the amount after lapse of 180 days.

After the authorisation of these inquires the defaulted flour mill owners have so far paid an amount of Rs. 8.126 billion, out of total default amount of Rs. 9.750 billion.