FIA probe finds top Pemra official involved in big scam
ISLAMABAD: A Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) probe has proved the mega scam “Super Baboo set to make Rs4 million per month” reported by The News on September 30, 2013 right, the FIA’s investigation report available with The News shows.
Sources informed The News that action against Chairman Pemra Chaudhry Rasheed, who it has now been established was involved in this huge scam, will be finalised this week.Chaudhry Rasheed, however, denies all allegations against him.
A press release issued by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on the day of publication of The News story had not only defended the process of awarding landing rights to a company owned by the alleged frontmen and relatives of the chairman by showing “Government of China” as ‘parent company’ but had also refuted all other allegations against him.
The News had reported that there were allegations of massive irregularities against the officer yet he was given a top position by the PPP government.
According to The News report, officials did not give up even after the new government came in and continued with his practices. However, while he was finalising one of his biggest moves, The News exposed his venture at the eleventh hour after which different inquiries were ordered and not only this but many other irregularities committed by him were exposed.
It is worth mentioning here that after the scam was reported, Pemra denied The News story “in categorical terms”.
Relevant parts of the press release issued by Chaudhry Rasheed on the day of publication of the scandal read as follows: “The reporter has created sensation through this story. This kind of baseless and hearsay reporting is not only against journalistic norms, but can severely dent the reputation of your esteemed newspapers as well,” said the spokesman.
Nevertheless, the right of doing business is a constitutionally protected right of every citizen of Pakistan. Moreover, the very purpose of Pemra law is healthy and fair promotion of private electronic media in the country. Both the Constitution and Pemra laws promote fair and healthy competition and discourage monopolies.
Under the Act, the Authority has exclusive powers to issue licenses/Landing Rights subject to the fulfilment of all legal, procedural and codal formalities.
The criteria and procedures for grant of licenses/Landing Rights is amply defined in Section 24, 25 of Pemra Act as well as Rules 5, 6, 7, 9 and 13 of Pemra Rules 2009. Pemra has neither accorded any undue favour to any individual or entity nor has it been antagonistic to anyone while exercising its powers as under the law & the rules.”
Sources in FIA while sharing this report said that it was finalised more than one month back and now FIA is in possession of a lot of incontrovertible evidences.Some of the relevant parts of this FIA report are discussed below after editing:
“On receipt of P.M. office U.O. No-6315/ASPM/13 dated 30-09-2013, Director General FIA deputed a two-member team consisting of undersigned officers to probe into the subject matter. The subject matter emanates from a Press Clipping published in the daily “The News” dated 30-09-2013.
2. The News item contained the following allegations, which were probed into:
i). An advertising company owned by two brothers committed a fraud with Press Information Department. It was during the period when present Chairman Pemra Ch. Rasheed Ahmed was Principal Information Officer. The company was black listed for a fraud. (Both brothers are alleged to work as frontmen of the officer)
ii). Despite being black listed, both brothers managed to register another company with the name of Super Media. The said company got itself prequalified as Advertising Agency for Pemra, in violation of prevalent rules, under patronage of Rasheed Ahmad.
iii). One of the brothers has recently purchased TV channels, named Star Light and Silver Screen.
iv). The top boss of Pemra, Rasheed Ahmad misused the directions of prime minister to address the complaint of Chinese. It was regarding giving landing rights to TV channels, CCTV 1 and CCTV 9. He managed to derive his own personal benefits by getting contract for his front men.
– In this specific case application of Super Media was received on 18-09-2013 in the Licensing Wing of Pemra. The Licensing Wing pin pointed many deficiencies, one of which was;
(i). Chinese government has mentioned as Principal instead of a foreign company with an address, which is uncommon.
– Sajjad Ahmed, DGM (Licensing), pointed out above-mentioned deficiencies. The GM Licensing was either away from the office or was intentionally ignored and the file was submitted directly to the DG Licensing.
– The Chairman on the same day i.e. 18-09-2013 wrote, “Please send to SA (Secretary Authority) a proper working paper” and marked the same to DG Licensing. Astonishingly the Licensing Wing and the Secretary of the Authority circulated the agenda to the members of the Authority for the consideration of the same in the coming meeting that was scheduled for 25-09-2013, without getting the requisite deficiencies resolved from the applicant (Super Media). The agenda was circulated on 19-09-2013, despite the fact that deficiencies were pointed out before this date and the applicant had not completed the formalities.
– The enquiry team is of the opinion that it was not possible to include the request of the Super Media on the agenda point without the involvement of top officers of the Pemra.
– PR Wing of Pemra handles the process for prequalification of advertising agencies. On 25-09-2011 the GM Media & PR circulated its advertisement for selection of advertising agency. In response 18 advertising agency submitted their documents out of which 06 were shortlisted. M/S Super Media was not included in either original 18 applicants or shortlisted 06. On the insistence of APNS the numbers of advertising agencies were reduced to 03. The PID vide letter dated 31-07-2012 made the appointment of the following 03 agencies for handling the Pemra advertisement and publicity assignments for a period of 02 year on regular basis:
(i) M/s Orient Advertising (Pvt.) Ltd.
(ii) M/s Midas Communications (Pvt.) Ltd.
(iii) M/s Kenad (Pvt.) Ltd.
– The said letter of PID further required Pemra to issue formal appointment letters to above-mentioned advertising agencies.
– Super Media did not apply to be included in the panel of Pemra advertising agencies and was never shortlisted. Pemra, in its letter dated 5th April 2013 informed APNS, that Super Media was among three companies appointed on Pemra panel. The team is of the view that Pemra misinterpreted earlier PID correspondence with APNS (regarding Super Media) for ulterior motives.
– The issue of (..old company), fake billing and the role of Ch. Rasheed Ahmed
– This company was incorporated with SECP Islamabad with two directors. This company submitted application to PID during 2009/2010 by using some fake NOC. However, the attempt was thwarted by the AGPR.
Although, Naveed Akbar was not a Director of the said company, however, he was the mastermind of that fraud. It is also established that this attempt was made when Ch. Rasheed Ahmed was PIO of PID. The details of this fraud and connection of Ch. Rasheed Ahmed are presently being probed by NAB. The team has also confirmed that Mr.
..(One of the brothers) has close relations with the Ch. Rasheed Ahmed.
– Conclusion: The team has observed serious irregularities in various aspects of working of Pemra, which are mentioned above. There are unexplained favours granted to Super Media, with extra ordinary expediency, which require detailed enquiry for further legal action.