KARACHI: The special court for offence in banks (SCOIB) in Karachi granted interim pre-arrest bail to 25 suspects in a case pertaining to Rs54 billion alleged bank fraud by various officers of Hascol Petroleum Limited (HPL), National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and other organisations.
Those granted pre-arrest bail include HPL’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Khurrum Shahzad and Director Najumus Saqib Hameed and others.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had booked HPL founder Mumtaz Hassan along with some 30 suspects, including present and former top officials of the NBP, HPL and other organisations, over their alleged involvement in the said case. After arrest Mumtaz Hassan was sent to jail in judicial custody.
Presiding officer of the SCOIB, Imdad Hussain Soomro after hearing the counsel of the applicant granted them pre-arrest bail with direction to cooperate with the FIA in investigation.
The FIA alleged that an inquiry had revealed that the detained HPL founder and others were involved in the country’s biggest financial fraud committed by the HPL officers in connivance with the NBP’s top management and other commercial banks.
The agency stated that from 2015 to 2020 in the shape of bank loans, funded and non-funded financial facilities were granted to the HPL by the NBP in alleged violation of the prudent banking laws and practices, which amounted to criminal breach of trust causing wrongful loss to the national exchequer and wrongful gain to the HPL.
The FIA claimed that the total amount of alleged default stood at Rs54 billion, of which Rs18 billion pertained to the NBP alone.
It mentioned that Hascol’s credit line was increased by NBP presidents and credit group officials from Rs2 billion to Rs18 billion against weak securities.
It added that the NBP opened fake letters of credit (LCs) to the tune of Rs95 billion for Hascol in favour of Byco petroleum, which would be investigated separately.
It mentioned that the HPL was incorporated by Mumtaz Hassan as a private limited company in 2001 for procurement, storage and marketing of local or imported petroleum products, chemicals and LPG. However, it was converted into a public utilized company in 2007 and listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in 2014.
The HPL’s first significant borrowing started with the Summit Bank in 2009, but the NBP entered the scene in 2014 when it gave Rs2 billion to the company in response to the HPL’s request addressed to accuse Ms Reema Athar who had moved from Pak-Iran Investment Company (PIIC) to the NBP as its SVP (senior vice president).