The newly exposed Modaraba scam, using religious scholars to con people, is feared to have robbed thousands of people of billions, a local English daily reported.
Over 850 citizens have filed claims amounting to more than Rs 500 million at the National Accountability Bureau against a sham company run by a group of Muftis (religious scholars) under the name of Modaraba and Musharaka.
Sources in NAB revealed concerns that it is a large scale operation involving billions amid indications that the money has also been transferred outside Pakistan. There are reports of different groups of Muftis working for different companies. However, due to the absence of the NAB chairman, the bureau has so far managed to query only one group.
The sources said many victims, who had invested huge sums into the fake scheme for a promised monthly profit of six to eight percent, remained reluctant to file claims before NAB fearing investigation about the source of their millions.
Offering interest-free Islamic investment to lure people, the scheme allegedly exploited a large number of people to invest their savings in the scheme. Reposing their trust in the Muftis and their claims, women are reported to have sold their jewelry while men disposed off their properties and ailing businesses to enjoy the promised gains of Islamic investment.
The NAB sources said that the bureau initially received a complaint against Mufti Ehsanul Haq and his group. It was reported that this group of Muftis was involving in obtaining funds from people on a profit and loss basis. The group received funds from the public in the name of Modaraba without having any authority,approval or registration as a Modaraba company from the SECP.
This complaint led to an investigation in the scam by NAB, which also used public advertisements warning people of the fraudulent company and asking victims of this scam to submit their claims with NAB.
Investigations revealed that the group had deceived the public and concealed the non-registration of their company from SECP while continuing to take money from people and issue receipts in the name of M/s Fayazi Gujranwala Industries Pvt. Ltd., which is registered as a private limited company having no mandate to act as a Modaraba company. Sources said some other companies were also operating in a similar manner to con the public.
Following the NAB advertisement, 856 people approached NAB with their claims till the middle of June. Claims are being verified from the available record produced by the accused – Mufti Ehsanul Haq – who was arrested by NAB authorities.
The NAB sources further said that the accused, admitting his guilt, came forward and applied for Voluntary Return (VR) under section 25 (a) of NAO 1999. On June 18, NAB approved VR of accused for an amount of Rs 552 million of which the accused has submitted Rs 446 million in the form of 20 pay orders.
He will deposit the remaining amount in one month while NAB has kept the original documents of six of his immoveable properties as guarantee. Mufti Muhammad Ehsan Ul Haq, after approval of VR, has been released.
Besides Mufti Ehsan’s group, two more companies of Muftis are reported to be involved in similar illegal Modaraba business in different parts of the country. One of the victims revealed that he had invested around Rs 20 million in the company of one Mufti Usama after having seen the Muftis coming up with a riba-free business.
He said he was told the investment is made in huge property businesses in foreign countries besides other schemes within Pakistan. He was told that investments are also being made in the airlines business.
The victim said that names of reputed scholars and revered religious groups were also used but later no such connection was found to be true.
NAB has also received a number of complaints against Elixir Group and Albaraka Marketing. “We will probe them once the new chairman NAB arrives,” a source said.