HYDERABAD – The Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) on Thursday brought former deputy commissioner Matiari Adnan Rashid before the Anti-Corruption Court here, while the court handed him over to anti-corruption police in a 7-day pre-trial detention, to conduct further investigation into embezzlement of the amount of Rs. 2.14 crore.
Anti-corruption police arrested the former DC on November 17 on alleged embezzlement of over Rs 2 billion in funds made available by the NHA to purchase land for the Sukkur-Hyderabad highway. The former Deputy Commissioner’s lawyer informed the court that his client was being tortured, after which the court ordered LUH MS to submit the accused’s medical report within three days.
According to the sources, based on the information obtained as a result of the investigation into the accused Adnan Rashid, a raid was conducted on the DC office in Matiari, during which a Land Cruiser and cash were seized.
Meanwhile, the Sindh government suspended four a day before Naushahro Feroze Deputy Commissioner Tashfeen Alam, who was involved in suspicious transactions of over Rs 2 billion intended for the acquisition of land for the M6 Sukkur-Hyderabad highway project Days after the official flew to Azerbaijan.
The officer reportedly went overseas on Nov. 19, and the provincial Department of General Administration and Coordination (SGA&CD) issued the suspension orders on Nov. 22, while the federal Department of Establishment issued Alam for 120, according to a notification that went viral Days are said to have been suspended on Thursday.
Sources said that according to the Nov. 22 notification, an indictment was to be sent to the official after the government received the report from the committee it formed to examine records of the alleged suspicious transactions of funds made by the National Highway Authority had provided land acquisition M6 project.
The notification said the DC had disappeared from office and the Shaheed Benazirabad Divisional Commissioner had reported to the SGA&CD that the officer had failed to perform his official duties for the past four days.
The committee, chaired by Sajjad Hyder, Director-General of Labor Sindh; along with Tariq Shah, Director General for Training, Management and Research, and Umar Farooq Bullo, a senior officer, investigated the matter in Naushahro Feroze.
The sources said the DC had appointed itself Land Acquisition Officer (LAO), a job most often delegated to the Deputy Commissioner for Land Acquisitions concerned. According to initial reports, 850 landowners received cash payments by bank after their land was acquired under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894.
“Serious procedural violations are as clear as cash payments to landowners. According to NHA officials, they have not yet received a copy of the award from the office in question, suggesting the award may not have been presented here as Matiari did,” an official said. Land acquisition payments have been made in Naushahro Feroze since June 2022, the sources said.
“A lump sum has been approved for the award (of payments), although it has always been approved separately in favor of each khatedar,” a source said. The amount of over Rs.2 crore has been withdrawn on eight different dates since June 2022, the source said.
“The DC was notified as LAO for the entire district, which was not required,” the source said.
The bank officials informed the committee that the bank was taking biometrics of the khatedars.
The Benazirabad Divisional Commissar had confiscated records of land acquisitions at Naushahro Feroze. Bank management told the committee that landowners visited the bank along with their national ID cards to collect the cash payments,” the official said.
Matiari M6 request
The Sindh Government Inquiry Committee into the Motorway Project visited Matiari District to investigate and determine the responsibilities of officials and Treasury losses.
Sources revealed that the committee members met the khatedars, who received cash payments for the land acquisition. “The Khatedars have informed the committee that they received cash payments at Matiari DC’s home rather than the Deputy Commissioner’s office,” said a source familiar with the committee.
The committee learned that four private individuals, Aslam, Rehmatullah, Illahi Bux and Asghar Jatoi, were involved in the scam. “Rehmatullah posed as an NHA representative despite being a front man for one of the four people.
Rehmatullah also has a connection to Naushahro Feroze but he has not worked for NHA,” a source said.
A close associate of the Makhdoom family, Aslam Pirzado, had reportedly also been granted bail prior to arrest in connection with the case in which Makhdoom Jamiluzzaman objected that Pirzado should not have been granted bail.
Over a dozen people met with the committee who learned Rs500m-Rs550m had been paid to various landowners in Matiari.
“However, it is not yet known where the remaining amount went as in fact Rs.2.14 crore was withdrawn from Saeedabad branch of Sindh Bank to pay Khatedars,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the FIA recommended adding the names of those accused of embezzling M-6 funds to the Exit Control List (ECL) on Thursday.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Sindh has recommended in a letter to FIA Immigration Islamabad that the names of those accused of the highway M-6 fund fraud be retained in the ECL.
Deputy Commissioner Naushehro Feroz Tashfeen Alam, DC Matiari Adnan Rashid, Deputy Commissioner New Saeedabad Mansoor Abbasi and Sindh Bank Branch Manager Mir Mohammad Suhag were added to the list of accused.
The National Highway Authority (NHA) had previously sought details of the embezzled highway funds from the Sindh Government.
A commission of inquiry from the NHA also visited the districts of Matiari and Naushehro Feroz. Committee members held meetings with the real owners of the land and asked them for details, sources said.
The highway authority had also asked the provincial government to refer the matter to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to investigate the fraud.
The amount was released by the NHA to Deputy Commissioners for Land Procurement for the construction of the Hyderabad-Sukkur M-6 Motorway.
DC Naushehro Feroz Tashfeen Alam has been in hiding and the Sindh government has assembled a team to capture him.
According to documents, the National Highway Authority had released an amount of Rs. 4.09 billion to DC Matiari for the purchase of the land for the highway. The accused withdrew Rs 1.82 billion in cash from the bank to purchase land for 70 kilometers of the road.
An amount of 4 billion rupees was transferred from the accused to another account and brought in 540 million rupees in profit. AC New Saeedabad paid the landowners cash instead of checks, case documents show.