ISLAMABAD - The high-ups of National Bank of Pakistan doled out millions of rupees to prominent lawyers, who appeared before the apex court in misuse and embezzlement of Rs 2 billions banks staff welfare fund, told petitioners counsel. Hashmat Habib, counsel for office-bearers of Banks workers union, argued before a three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry that the government departments could not pay legal fees more than Rs 0.1 million to any lawyer without prior approval of Ministry of Law and Justice. The learned lawyer stated that his petition has been pending in the apex court against charging of millions of rupees as fee by senior lawyers including Sharifuddin Peerzada in Pakistan Steel Mills corruption case. He requested the court to take up his case because these departments pay lawyers fees from public exchequer. At this point, Hafeez Peerzada, counsel for NBP, exchanged harsh words with him. Peerzada rejecting the allegation said that he had never taken huge fees. He stated that he had voluntarily appeared in many case even without getting fee. The Chief Justice stopped Hashmat Habib from discussing the lawyers issues, who allegedly obtained fee in millions of rupees from the government departments. During the course of proceedings, the court expressed its annoyance over the Federal Investigation Agency for not registering the cases against the alleged NBP officials, who had misused the employees welfare fund. The court directed the FIA to proceed against the accused in accordance with the law and submit report by June 23. FIA Karachi Director, Moazzam Jah informed the bench that more than Rs 2.5 billion were embezzled in the NBP welfare fund. Peerzada contradicting the FIA official statement said it was totally false that welfare fund had been misused. He said 70,000 employees of National Bank had been benefiting from this fund and no discrimination was made in granting money from the staff welfare fund. The Chief Justice said that he would have soft corner for anyone who voluntarily returns the staff money. The hearing was adjourned till June 23.