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FIA’s inquiry report on Steel Mills

ISLAMABAD: FIA Director General Waseem Ahmed startled the Supreme Court hearing a case of Rs22 billion Pakistan Steel Mills scam by questioning the veracity of an inquiry report compiled by his predecessor.

steel mill pakistan newsThe report, prepared by the Karachi Crime Circle of the Federal Investigation Agency, said that former PSM chairman Moeen Aftab Sheikh in collusion with its managing director Rasool Bux Pholpoto and Sameen Asghar had caused Rs3.8 billion losses to the mills by allegedly manipulating supply of premium grade billets at an extremely reduced price only to favour Abbas Steel Group of Karachi and ignoring genuine consumers.

“Abbas Group was major purchaser which used to procure 20 per cent billets,” Mr Ahmed claimed. He said the report prepared by the former DG highlighted Rs3.8 billion loss to the mills through this transaction alone.

“But I am contesting the same,” the FIA DG said. “If you are contesting your own department’s report what remains to be done then,” the chief justice observed.

“If the court has no confidence in me I will relinquish the charge,” Mr Ahmed replied. He said it was FIA which arrested 11 people in a corruption case in the National Insurance Company Limited.

At the last hearing, a senior lawyer had alleged that the FIA had only implicated only PSM employees in its inquiry into the corruption.

On Thursday, Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, the counsel for the PSM, informed the court that the mill was still incurring a loss of Rs1 billion per month because of FIA’s pending inquiry even though there was no corruption in the PSM right now.

“Ever since the cases had been registered against different contractors of the PSM, it went into losses and its production declined to 40 per cent,” the counsel claimed.

The mills, he said, required 0.2 million tons of iron ore per month to produce optimum level of steel billets, but it was being supplied only 0.1 million tons of the raw material.

“If the inquiry continues, the mills will be forced to close down,” Advocate Ebrahim said.

He claimed that even the Scotland Yard could not detect ‘white collar crimes.’

“We can close the Rs22 billion corruption in the steel mills if you want,” the chief justice observed. He regretted that nobody wanted to act against influential people. It was the Supreme Court which had first taken action on the PSM scam.

When the chief justice asked about the cancellation of bail granted by courts to people involved in the scam, Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq said that no such pleas could be moved because a number of issues linked to the matter were still pending.

Answering a question about the recovery of money, the FIA DG said the agency’s rules did not permit recovery of any amount. It was the job of the National Accountability Bureau, he added.

Mr Ahmed requested the court to order an audit by independent auditors.

The court noted in its order that the statement of FIA DG not agreeing to the report was important because it would have serious impact on the case. The case was adjourned for a month on the request Mr Ahmed who sought time to prepare an assessment report.

The Supreme Court had taken notice on an article by Dr Ayesha Siddiqa in Dawn on Sept 11 last year. She had mentioned five concerns as the main beneficiary of the new sale policy adopted by the PSM Metropolitan, Amreli Steels, Abbas Engineering, Al-Abbas Steel and Abbas Steel.

The issue came to limelight after former PSM chairman Moeen Aftab was fired without issuing any show-cause notice by the Establishment Division on the advice of Prime Minister’s Secretariat on Aug 18 last year because of heavy losses suffered by the mills.

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