Import, export hub: 15 traders’ bank accounts frozen at Sost branch

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By Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: The bank accounts of at least 15 traders were frozen for their alleged involvement in the embezzlement of Rs220 million at a branch of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in Gilgit-Baltistan.

“Their accounts will remain frozen until the enquiry comes to a close,” an insider privy to the development told The Express Tribune on Tuesday. “A letter to the bank has been dispatched.”

The traders were accused of working with two bank officers to embezzle the amount from an NBP branch in Sost village, the last town of G-B’s Gojal Valley on Karakoram Highway before the China border.

“The traders are being investigated by a National Accountability Bureau official,” he said, adding the traders include members from G-B Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The scam was unearthed in January after a manager and two other officials of the bank were arrested by NAB for embezzling millions and causing a loss to the national exchequer. Over Rs10 million have so far been recovered from them during investigations.

According to officials familiar with the matter, Sost town is a business hub as the dry port is located there and bank officers regularly deal with traders involved in export and import with China.

NAB crackdowns 

Earlier, NAB arrested three officials of the education department on charges of illegal recruitment of more than 1,300 teachers and other staff in G-B. They were also accused of misappropriating millions of rupees. The arrested officers included former director of education and former deputy director of education. A judge sent them into police custody for 15 days on remand.

In the excise and taxation department, NAB arrested two employees for corruption; investigation continues in the case.

Speaking to the media in Gilgit on Tuesday, chief minister’s adviser, Abid Baig, said the government will extend all possible help to NAB in its drive against corruption. “NAB is an independent body and we appreciate its actions.” He added no progress can be achieved unless
corruption is eliminated from society.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th,  2016.

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