By Iram Salim
Islamabad (Pak Ddestiny) The trend of launching media house to cover up one’s corruption continues unabated in Pakistan.
In a latest example the owner of the Royal News media house is involved in Rs100 crore fraud that National Accountability Bureau has recently unearthed.
Ghafoor Wattoo and Zahoor Wattoo, the owners of Royal News TV, have committed a fraud with around 1200 people who purchased plots in the Formanites Housing Society Lahore which is also owned by both cousins.
While Royal News is known as a blackmail TV news channel, the Wattoo brothers not only defrauded people by selling them plots which were non-existent in the FHS but also pressuring NAB officials not to lay hand on them otherwise they will use their TV network to propagate against the bureau.
According to reports, both brothers have promised to return the looted money of Rs100 crore to the affectees.
Interestingly, the NAB is showing restraint in taking the accused into custody apparently because they are owners of a media house.
However our sources said the NAB has forwarded their case to the chairman who will authorize their arrest after taking the NAB board members into confidence.
There are other media houses in Pakistan which have been established primarily to give protection to their “black money”. More businessmen are going to launch TV news channels and newspapers in coming months with the same intention. — Pak Destiny
Dawn in its today’s edition reports
Over Rs2bn fraud in two housing schemes
LAHORE: The Formanites Housing Society and the State Life Cooperative Housing Society Lahore scams have crossed Rs1 billion-mark each.
Some 1,150 people have filed complaints with the National Accountability Bureau, Punjab, against the management of the Formanites Housing Society, pleading to recover from it their ‘looted’ money.
“We have so far received 1,150 claims for compensation amounting to over Rs1 billion from the affectees of the Formanites Housing Society. More claims are pouring in every day,” a source in the NAB told Dawn on Thursday.
He said the NAB had summoned Ghafoor Wattoo and Zahoor Wattoo, directors of the company managing the affairs of the society.
“They have pledged to return the money to the affected people,” he said, adding the NAB would take strict legal action if the directors did not cooperate in this respect.
According to most of the complaints, the management of the society had sold a number of plots at Phase-II which was “non-existent”. It also resold several pledged plots, and the plots of those who had defaulted. The society also allegedly sold more plots than existing ones.
The source said the NAB would announce the compensation date once the investigation was complete.
Similarly, in the State Life Cooperative Housing Society scam, the NAB has arrested 20 accused allegedly involved in misappropriation of over Rs1145 million.
According to the NAB, the accused arrested so far include the society office holders, revenue officials, land grabbers and property dealers. They include Asghar Ali, Liaquat Ali Gulzar, Muhammad Yaseen, Javaid Tahsin, Safdar Husain, Muhammad Aslam and Sarfraz Ali Bhatti.
The NAB has received compensation claims from about 700 people so far. The accused were allegedly involved in procurement of fake land, re-allotment/double allotment of plots of the affected persons.
The NAB Punjab has placed caution on 1,094 kanals of land of the society. “The accused were given opportunity to return the embezzled money at the inquiry stage. Those refusing to avail the Voluntary Return have been arrested for further investigation and recovery of the public money,” the NAB said.
Published in Dawn, November 21th, 2014