Principal accused says he was only a front man of high-ups and union leader for selling jobs, postings, promotions, increment and made scapegoat with 11 others lower grade staff
By M Jahangir Hayat
LAHORE: In a mega millions of rupees parallel banking and fraud scam of the Allied Bank Limited (ABL) Shahdara branch that has shaken public trust in banking sector, new facts have emerged as principal accused has come with sweeping allegations that he was merely a front man of high-ups, including the Human Resource Chief and ABL union secretary in selling postings, promotions, increments and jobs and is made a scapegoat with other lower grade staff. On the other hand, the bank has dismissed principal accused and 11 other lower grade accused employees before the court’s decision; however, FIA has found the ‘front man’ and 11 other lower grade employees responsible of parallel banking and embezzlement in the bank’s funds to the tone of Rs 186 million.
In February 2019, Allied Bank Limited communicated the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) the total amount of fraud of over Rs 120 million and vowed to communicate if more discrepancies appear. The FIA had registered an FIR against Mirza Gulfam, son of Muhammad Yousaf, Ali Mehmood, son of Altaf Mehmood, Muhammad Hussain, son of Malik Muhammad Javaid, Mirza Muhammad Wasim Baig, son of Muhammad Arshad Baig, Najeeb Hanif, son of Muhammad Hanif, Shahid Maqbool Mirza and Zahid Maqbool Mirza. The agency registering the FIR has started investigation into the fraud.
As per the newly emerged details documents for which are available with Daily The Business, principal accused in the scam, ABL Shahdara branch ex-manager Shahid Maqbool Mirza in his statement to the FIA has said that he was a ‘front man’ of Human Resource Group Chief Saira Shahid Hussain and ABL union general secretary Abuzar Bukhari in selling bank’s hiring, promotions and increments.
“I had been receiving money from public and the bank employees with the promises of their appointment in the bank, their promotions, transfers and postings on the instruction of Human Resource Chief and facilitation of the union general secretary and handing over the money to them,” he said.
“Every year two batches of tellers and MTOs had been announced by the bank and in every batch, I handed over minimum 10 CVs with Rs 300,000 each for the post of teller and Rs 500,000 each for the post of MTOs to the union general secretary since 2012 to 2019. Every time out of 10 jobs two to three applicants of mine were accommodated while others refused but Bukhari never returned the money for the rejected CVs due to which I had been facing huge losses,” he added.
He said that he had to make payments to those applicants who were never appointed and upon the directions of the high-ups the ABL ex-branch manager used to return payments to those applicants who could not be appointed along with their CVs from the accounts of the other accountholders of the bank who were maintaining their fixed deposits in the bank branch.
“The top officials used to buy time and sometime harassed me whenever I talked about settling accounts of the fixed deposit accountholders whose accounts were used to make payments to the candidates who were refused appointments,” the ABL Shahdara branch ex- manager said, adding, he felt like a handicap despite being a branch manager as blue-eyed staff of the high-ups were appointed in his branches to keep an vigilant eye on him and inform them whether or not I was following their instructions to protect their vested interests.
“I paid the money to Abuzar Bukhari in cash and also sometime transferred to the family pool accounts of Bukhari for tellers and MTOs appointment in cash who gave the money to the Human Resources Chief against the appointments, transfers, posting and hiring, he allegedly stated, adding that the money can be traced from the family pool accounts Abuzar Bukhari.
He said upon the directions of the HRC, top officials and facilitation of Allied Bank Worker Federation General secretary Abuzar Bukhari, he received Rs 300,000 each from Zahid Maqbool Mirza, and 28 others for their appointment as tellers during 2012 to 2019 and gave the whole amount to Abuzar Bukhari against that appointment letter were issued by the HR Department to the 28 candidates, who are still working in the bank.
“I had been receiving money from the employees and public as per the rate and giving the money to the HR Chief through Abuzar Bukhari,” he said.
He quoted the example of a candidate Muhammad Mohsin explaining that he also gave Rs 500,000 to Abuzar Bukhari for the appointment of a candidate Muhammad Mohsin as MTO whose name was not in the list of NTS and Saira Shahid Hussain, who was Group head in 2013, managed inclusion of his name in list in just 12 hours.
“Mohsin could not be selected, however, Abuzar Bukhari had never return me Rs 500,000 due to the reason I had to pay him back the amount from my own pocket,” Shahid Maqbool stated, for I was trapped Abuzar Bukhari has been receiving money in cash and through account transfer by black mailing me and that the amount can be traced in accounts of Bukhari’s relatives.
He further stated that he had been making payments in abroad for the education and recreational expenditures of Abuzar Bukhari’s family which can be confirmed from the bank accounts of his family members besides Najeeb Hanif, Mirza Gulfam and Muhammad Hussain Malik are the main witness of the facts.
“I have been paying all the expenditures of education of Abuzar Bukhari’s real son and his son-in-law in Malaysia and England until 2019 and all the payments have been made in abroad through Money changer Qasir Sadiq.”
He also explained the criterion and rates of promotions in the bank mentioning that Rs 100,000 was the rate for promotion from teller to Banking Services Officer (BSO), Rs 200,000 from MG-11 to MG10, Rs 300,000 MG-11 to MG-9, from getting promotion as regional head Rs 700,000 and Rs 1,500,000 were set to get promotion as group head.
Shahid Maqbool Mirza told this reporter that he and the 11 other lower grade bank staff have been illegally dismissed from their jobs for fraud in bank’s funds while the books of the bank indicated no losses done to the bank as all accounts of the bank are balanced and embezzlement took place on personal levels as the bank rejected all the claims of accountholders.
“The main beneficiaries Saira Shahid Hussain, Group Head Faisal Rasheed Ghori, Regional Head Asif Fida Hussain and ABL Union Federation General secretary Abuzar Bukhari and others have managed to escape and are holding top offices,” Shahid Maqbool Mirza said, adding that for a fair investigation they must be interrogated.
On the other hand, FIA investigation report has found Shahid Mqabool Mirza and 14 others lower grade staff and private accused person responsible for the embezzlement in funds and parallel banking and said that Shahid Mqabool Mirza, ABL Shahdara ex-branch manager was a principal accused in the case for practicing parallel banking while the other accused were involved in violations of SOPs and they assisted Mirza in parallel banking and embezzlement.
The report said that other 10 employees of the bank who assisted the ex-branch manager were involved in illegal transfers of money, fake signatures on the receipts against the amount deposited in the bank, flying entries without instruments, inputting and authorization while private accused persons in connivance with Shahid Mqabool Mirza got transferred money from the affectees’ accounts to their own accounts.
When contacted Saira Shahid Hussain, currently Human Resources Group Head, said, “I have nothing to do with the happening. This is a bank’s internal matter which was sent to the FIA and the bank took its own decision and the matter is closed now and don’t call me”.
The reporter also contacted ABL Group Head Faisal Rasheed Ghori for his version on the story who said that all the allegations against him are baseless and fabricated and he has no role in the matter while
Regional Head Asif Fida Hussain did not reply despite several attempts on his phone besides messages were also sent to him. Abuzar Bukhari was also contacted but he could not be reached despite several
attempts; however, FIA investigation officer Aftab Wattoo told this scribe that Bukhari was investigated but Shahid has no proof to establish his claim that he gave millions of rupees to Bukhari. However, Bukhari admitted that he has borrowed some money up to Rs 2.5 lakh from Shahid for which he gave him some cheques while the transfer of no more than Rs 5,000 has ever been made in his or his relatives’ accounts and that Shahid got his bail by pledging his property, he added.