NAB’s effective enforcement strategy yielding dividend: Chairman NAB

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ISLAMABAD, May 14 (APP): Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, Chairman

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has said that it is Pakistan’s
apex anti-corruption organization which was established in 1999 with
the mandate to eliminate corruption and to recover looted money from
corrupts and deposit in national exchequer.
The present management of NAB after due deliberations, devised
an effective Enforcement Strategy in order to nab corrupts across
the board by adopting zero tolerance policy, said a press release
here Sunday.
He said that salient features of NAB’s Enforcement Strategy
are that NAB is a complaint driven organization and NAB operations
start functioning on receipt of a written complaint about an alleged
act of corruption & corrupt practices as defined under section 9 of
NAO.
The process initiated with verification of the contents of the
complaint received and the applicability of the provisions of law.
This process is called Complaint Verification (CV) wherein the
complainant is called for confirming the evidence available with him
and submit affidavit.
Once it is determined that the alleged offence falls under NAO
and available material justifies for further process, the same is
processed for subsequent action.
In the second step, inquiry under section 18 of the NAO is
authorized to confirm the committal of offence and collection of
evidence to identify the alleged person(s) involved.
The record / evidence collection process is supplemented with
recording of statements of witnesses and accused persons. During
inquiry, the whole process is completed after due deliberations at
inquiry level by giving consideration to the role of Combined
Investigation Teams (CITs) and in the Regional Executive Board
Meetings (RBMs).
NAB’s present management has devised to rationalize workload
of NAB and timelines have been prescribed for efficient, effective
and expeditious disposal of cases putting a maximum limit of 10
months from complaint verification-to-inquiry-to-investigation and
finally to a reference in the Accountability Court.
In order to ensure uniformity and standardization, the
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of NAB for investigation
officers (IOs) in vogue were reviewed and revised after a gap of 10
years in order to benefit from the experience and collective wisdom
of senior supervisory officers, a system of Combined Investigation
Team comprising of Director, Additional Director, Investigation
Officer and a Senior Legal Counsel has been put in place.
The implementation of enforcement Strategy is being monitored
in NAB through daily, weekly, monthly reports and annual
inspections.
Once a criminal case is established and the accused is unable
to return the ill gotten / pecuniary resources, inquiry is converted
into investigation under section 18 (C) of NAO to finalize the
collection of evidence for filing of reference / Challan in the
respective Accountability Court and to prosecute him with the
objective of conviction and confiscation of proceeds of crime.
During the investigation, the accused is provided opportunity
to confront with the evidence collected. The accused has the option
of Plea Bargain (PB) at this stage under section 25-B of NAO to
return the illegal gain to avoid trials and imprisonment. In any
case, the disposal of this stage is referred to the Court for final
approval.
The Enforcement Strategy of NAB starts with initiative of fact
finding without blaming any person for an alleged act of corruption.
The process moves with simple explanations from the complainant to
clarify the charges against accused and to confirm his position with
material evidence if any. On the other hand during inquiry, the
collection of evidence viz.a.viz the allegations are verified with
the explanations given by the accused person and statements recorded
from the witnesses.
If the stated version of accused is found implausible, the
matter moves for option of accepting guilt and offering for
voluntary return of assets or gain acquired as a consequence of an
offence committed under NAO.
Failing at this stage and with the availability of cogent
evidence, the investigation proceedings may causes arrest of the
accused and with the option of Plea Bargain, carrying
disqualification to hold public office or to obtain financial
facility from banks. The Plea Bargain (PB) come under 25-B of
National Accountability Ordinance, NAO.
The tougher stage approached when after finalization of
investigation the trial proceedings initiated and the accused
persons are facing for charges of corruption and corrupt practices
framed by the respective Accountability Court and where possible
conviction which may extend to fourteen years Regress Imprisonment
(RI) with fine and or confiscation of assets and properties in the
name of accused or his family members.
This stage has multiple consequences both for the accused and
his family. The disgracing life among the fellow members of the
society may be one of the consequences beside economic constraints
in participation of activities.
The operational arms of NAB are its Regional Bureaus which
involved in field operations i.e. conduct of CVs, inquiries,
investigations, prosecution of cases at trial and appellate stages.
The Operations Division and Prosecution Division at NAB Headquarter
are providing all supports for smooth conduct of Enforcement
activities in accordance with law and the Standing Operating
Procedures (SOPs).
The Chairman NAB said that we have delegated some of the
operational powers of the NAO to the Regional Directors General for
prompt utilization of these powers and to achieve the objective of
eradication of corruption from the country.
The Enforcement Strategy and the SOPs are the guiding
principles of operational methodology which provide for effective
monitoring and accountability within the organization.
The operational decision making is passing through a
consultative process, called the Executive Board Meetings (EBMs),
chaired by the Chairman, PGA and participated by the senior officers
at NAB Headquarter and the NAB Regional Bureaus via video links.
He said that NAB’s Effective Enforcement Strategy yielding
dividend as it is an effective tool of curbing white collar crimes
and led to recovery of proceeds of crime of worth Rs. 287 billion
since its inception. Due to NAB’s Enforcement Strategy, the overall
conviction ratio is of 76 percent.