LAHORE - The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Punjab chapter, has finalised investigation against some Bank of Punjab (BoP) officials and the two private firms owned by close relatives of former Punjab governor Khalid Maqbool.

“We are going to file a reference in an accountability court after getting the stay vacated from the court concerned,” a NAB spokesman quoted the provincial director general as saying.

It is worth mentioning here that the BoP management had complained to the NAB authorities that M/s Gas Naturale (Pvt) Limited and Synergy Power (Pvt) Limited had caused a colossal financial loss of over Rs l.866 billion to the Bank of Punjab.

The BoP management informed the NAB that M/s Gas Naturale (Pvt) Limited, was incorporated on December 1, 2005, and Synergy on November 27, 2006, as private limited companies under the Companies Ordinance 1984, with registered office at 17-C/II, MM Alam Road, Gulberg III, and 35km Shamke-Bhatian, Multan Road, Lahore, while M/s Sheikh Amjad Latif and Sheikh Ahsan Latif are the shareholders/directors of the said company (collectively borrowers).

The borrowers, having established liquefaction of natural gas project at Shorkot, Punjab, are well-connected politically while one of the directors, Sheikh Ahsan Latif, is son-in-law of former Punjab governor Khalid Maqbool, the BoP complained. The borrowers, at the time of applying for the grant of financial facilities from the BoP, claimed falsely and with criminal motivation that they belonged to a multimillion, well-diversified business conglomerate having experience in LNG-based businesses, and had already injected a capital of Rs 360 million as equity in the new business. They also claimed they possessed adequate business experience, managerial, financial and technical depth to handle the project of this magnitude.

The request for the project financing was processed without any verification of the borrowers. It was then submitted by M/s Hassan Hayat, RM, and Ms Kanwal Rashid, corporate head of Lahore, Muhammad Idrees Shahid, manager advances, Syed Kamal Sajjad, forex manager, and Muhammad Adil Khan, chief manager, Main Branch, Lahore, to the BoP for approval. The same was considered by the then Central Credit Committee of BoP comprising Azizul Hameed, country risk manager, Haroon Aziz, general manager, Muhammad Shoaib Qureshi, general manager, and Hamesh Khan, president. The aforesaid officials of BoP collectively misused their authority to commit breach of trust and provide undue favour to the borrowers due to their high political connections.

In this regard, the said BoP officials with criminal intent failed to safeguard the interests of the bank as they utterly ignored the fact that the borrowers’ company was a newly incorporated entity without any asserted capital/requisite asset or profile to initiate and or handle such a business. At the same time the borrowers neither possessed nor had they injected Rs 360 million in the project as falsely claimed by them. Furthermore, the borrowers’ business plan, according to technical and financial feasibility submitted by them, was bogus and fabricated.

The borrowers along with their affiliates/abettors, M/s Synergy Resources (Pvt) Limited and Awami Gas (Pvt) Limited, including their shareholders/directors as well as the officials of BoP, had committed a fraud of Rs l.866 billion [inclusive of markup] as was claimed on June 30, 2010, by the bank management in its complaint to the NAB.

The NAB was requested vide letter dated April 17, 2013, that Chartered Accountant Ibne Hassan who confirmed the equity contribution of Rs 362.163 million had refused to provide the documentary evidence substantiating the audit certificate. The information was shared with NAB vide letter dated May 15, 2013, regarding purchase of Kohinoor Sugar Mills Ltd (now Joharabad Sugar Mills Ltd) by the accused against consideration of Rs 1.3 billion with the request to probe the matter at their end.

The information was shared with NAB vide letter dated June 13, 2013, regarding non-contribution of equity by the borrowers on the basis of the record received from supplier M/s Chart & Energy with the request to take appropriate action and hold an inquiry at their end.

Information regarding documentary evidence (i.e. return of cheque sent to the supplier for equity) was shared with NAB vide letter dated August 29, 2013, with the request to expedite action against the offenders.

The NAB was requested vide letter dated September 18, 2013, for immediate action against illegal sale of attached 6.097 million shares of Kohat Cement, approximately valuing Rs 566.091 million, by one of the accused, Sheikh Amjad Latif.

The NAB was requested vide letter dated October 21, 2013, to place caution on bonus shares and cash dividend received by the accused against their shares in Kohat Cement Limited. The information was shared with NAB vide letter dated May 9, 2014, that the accused refused to provide access to valuators for valuation of the project. The NAB was requested vide letter dated December 22, 2014, for freezing properties and attached 5.763 million shares under Section 12 of National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

After preliminary inquiry and receipt of substantial evidence against the accused, it was converted into investigation which revealed the sponsors’ claim of injecting equity via advance payment of US $ 5.962 million, direct to supplier M/s Chart & Energy, was proven fake because the said company returned the cheque of US $ 5.962 million vide its letter dated November 6, 2006, to M/s Gas Naturale. The NAB Oversees Wing directly confirmed this fact through FBI, USA.