ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) told the Supreme Court on Saturday that it had received Rs20.4 billion as voluntary return (VR) between Jan 2006 and June 2016.
VR is a provision in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 which allows an individual found guilty of corruption to pay back certain portions of the embezzled money to remove liability and charges against them.
NAB submitted a report to the Supreme Court saying it had collected Rs20.4 billion, Rs17.8 billion of which had been disbursed to the federal and provincial governments. The remaining amount was yet to be distributed as it was subject to the finalisation of various cases and verification of claims.
At the hearing of the suo moto case on Oct 24, the three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, had asked NAB to submit details of the money they had collected under the VR scheme in the last decade. The apex court had also restrained NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry from approving VR till the case was decided.
The suo motu notice was taken up on the basis of an observation by Justice Amir Hani Muslim on Sept 2 in Karachi while hearing a NAB appeal. The judge had deplored the powers of the NAB chairman which allowed an offender found guilty of corruption to get off scot-free without stigma after VR of the embezzled money.
NAB said in its report that the bureau had so far disbursed Rs 1 billion to the federal government, Rs1.5 billion to the Sindh government, Rs685 million to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, Rs789 million to the Punjab government, Rs251 million to the Balochistan government, Rs8 million to the Gilgit-Baltistan government, Rs1.6 billion to the federal consolidated account and Rs11.9 billion to corporations, autonomous and semi autonomous bodies.
It said that NAB had already submitted a list of 1,584 civil servants of which 165 federal employees and 1,419 officers from provincial departments had entered VR.
The bureau explained that ordinarily VR was accepted in cases of cheating the public at large such cases involving Double Shah, Modarba scam, private housing schemes etc.
This legal provisions of VR, the report argued, had helped expedite recovery of losses caused to the government exchequer as done in the Rental Power Plants (RPP) cases where an approximate amount of Rs4 billion was recovered.
The court will resume hearing of the case on Nov 7.
Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2016