ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Tuesday froze the bank accounts of sacked minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi and four officials of the religious affairs ministry and put their names on the Exit Control List (ECL), barring them from travelling abroad.
According to an FIA official, the action has been taken against Mr Kazmi, Religious Affairs Secretary Agha Sarwar Qazilbash, Haj Operations Director-General Rao Shakeel, Joint Secretary Raja Aftab Islam and Haj Director Behrullah Hazarvi and their names have also been put on the Exit Control List (ECL), barring them from travelling abroad.
The FIA has also obtained an audio CD containing recording of telephonic conversation of close relatives of the former minister with some travel agents allegedly about some deals.
The CD was presented before the Supreme Court on Monday by Azam Khan Swati who has also been removed as the minister for science and technology.
According to the transcript obtained by the FIA, Mr Kazmi’s brother-in-law Abdullah Mehmood Khan and nephew Rana Irfan demanded Rs25,000 for each pilgrim from a travel agent as commission, but the agent refused to pay the amount, saying Rs22,000 had been decided for each application of which Rs2,000 was to go to the relatives of the minister.
“You are not receiving my calls and have made my life a hell because all applicants who had paid money are after me and I don’t know what to do because you are not in contact,” the travel agent said.
A relative of the former minister said: “I have talked to the minister and everything will be all right.”
“We have also met the secretary but he is demanding money too for each application,” the travel agent said.
An FIA official said the agency would conduct raids to arrest the brother-in-law and nephew of the former minister. Some tour operators involved in the scam are also likely to be arrested.
The agency has also obtained some unsigned letters allegedly written by Mr Kazmi on his official letterhead.
In one letter, he allegedly recommended a contractor of Haj arrangements for an official passport.
However, the ex-minister claimed that he had nothing to do with the fraud unearthed in the Haj arrangements made by his ministry.
Talking to the media after his removal, he said he had been implicated in the scam because he wanted to eliminate corruption from the ministry.
He said in reply to a question that he did not keep heavy bank accounts and was not worried over the move to freeze them. “I was a solitary person before becoming a federal minister and will remain the same after removal from my office,” he said.
The FIA sent a three-member investigation team to Saudi Arabia on Monday night to probe into allegations of fraud in hiring accommodation for Pakistani pilgrims and providing other facilities to them.
The team, headed by a director, will remain there till the completion of the investigation and meet Saudi investigators and authorities. The agency has arrested Rao Shakeel and Raja Aftab.