ISLAMABAD:

 The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday handed over a cheque of Rs224.071 million to the Sindh government after recovering the amount in the illegal award of contracts case pertaining to the installation of solar streetlights under the Sindh Roshan Programme.

 The money had been recovered by national graft buster as a result of plea bargain with the accused.

 According to a statement issued by the anti-graft watchdog, a cheque for Rs224.071 million was handed over by NAB Chairman Justice (retired) Javed Iqbal to Sindh Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah after a meeting, which was attended by ranking officials.

 Earlier, the anti-graft buster had handed over land amounting to Rs11.66 billion in fake bank account scam cases.

 Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had been accused of awarding contracts illegally for the purchase and installation of solar lights to various companies during his tenure as finance minister in 2014-15.

 The NAB alleged that Shah had been involved in the purchase of solar lights of inferior quality amounting to Rs4 billion, which was 400% more than the actual price.

 Giving details of the recovery in the meeting, Rawalpindi NAB DG Irfan Naeem Mangi said that the anti-corruption watchdog had initiated probe in illegal award of contracts for the installation of solar street lights in municipal and town committees of Sindh under the Roshan Sindh programme.  

 The subject investigation was authorised as a spinoff of an umbrella inquiry referred by the JIT where a total of 19 contractors had deposited kickbacks in different fake bank accounts.     

 The instant investigation revealed that three contractors namely Wadood Engineering Service Pvt Limited along with MJB Construction Company and Zafar Enterprises (JV) were illegally awarded six contracts pertaining to a project namely "Installation of Solar Street Lights in Municipal and Town Committees of Sindh (Roshan Sindh programme)" by the officials of Sindh Rural Development Department.         

 The statement noted that an expert from Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) Islamabad with NAB team collected solar lights from Hyderabad, Sukkur and Larkana and tested in the LAB of PCRET Islamabad. 

 An item the cost of which was Rs600 to Rs2,000 had been shown in the documents to be purchased at Rs60, 000/-.  However, the solar charge controller item was never purchased in actual.

 The NAB said that exorbitant rates of lights amounted to Rs401.2 million and huge kickbacks were paid to government officials to the tune of Rs22.3 million. 

 Former provincial minister Sherjeel Memon had allegedly received Rs77 million which was deposited in a fake bank account.

 The meeting was further informed that the total liability of the project was Rs505 million and that the accused had admitted their offence and entered into a plea bargain.

 Recalling the achievements of NAB, the chairman observed that the national graft buster had recovered Rs10 billion in Sugar Scam in Sindh and deposited the amount in the national exchequer which was subsequently returned to Sindh government.

 Similarly, the anti-graft body had recovered directly and indirectly Rs23 billion in fake accounts cases and deposited the money in the treasury.

 It also returned two plots of Rs500 million to the Sindh government.

 The NAB chief maintained that former Sindh Building Control Authority DG Manzoor Kaka had illegally allotted 506 acres land of Pakistan Steels. The documents for 300 acres of land amounting to Rs1 billion had been returned to the Sindh government.      

 Justice Iqbal stated that due to vigorous prosecution of NAB, the accountability court in Karachi had accepted the plea bargain request of accused Kamran Iftikhar Lari for Rs1.27 billion in Pakistan State Oil (PSO) case.    

 The anti-graft watchdog is also probing a case pertaining to the shortfall of anti-rabies vaccine at public hospitals across Sindh.

 The meeting was attended by Accountability Prosecutor General Syed Asghar Haider, Sindh Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah, NAB DG Operations Zahir Shah, Rawalpindi NAB DG Irfan Naeem Mangi and other senior officials.

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