ISLAMABAD: Making breaking news for thousands of affectees of a major financial scam in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), National Accountability Bureau (Rawalpindi) has arrested an official of a fraudulent investment company – Big Board – from Karachi on Tuesday.
The Karachi-based firm Big Board Advisory Service (Pvt) Ltd had cheated thousands of people in GB by opening offices in various districts and by promising a rate of return between 18 to 36 percent per year on investing money in the company for the year 2004–2005. The company then abruptly closed offices in the area as a large number of its investors started demanding a return on their investments.
The firm operated much like a bank; opening saving accounts for the customers.
The affectees that largely included persons from the middle-income class – mostly retired government employees and farmers – had lost hope of receiving the returns when the government institutions, including NAB, failed to arrest the culprits.
Talking to Pakistan Today, official sources at NAB Islamabad, said that the accused – Big Board Advisory Service (Pvt) Ltd Chief Executive – Abbas Haider Naqvi was arrested from Karachi where the company’s head office is located and that he was being assisted by other individuals as well. They further revealed that the directors of the said company cunningly collected money from the general public by promising a rate of return ranging from as low as 18percent to 36 percent per year to as high as 100 percent to 150 percent for an investment for 5 years.
During the investigation, NAB received 1019 complaints involving the total liability of Rs184.33 million from all the districts of GB. Also, four directors of the fraudulent company, namely Syed Sarosh Haider Rizvi, Muhammad Arif Khan, Muhammad Sadiq Khan and Ahmed Rehman were arrested from Karachi before being convicted.
Abbas Haider Naqvi will be produced before the Accountability Court Karachi to get a transitory remand in order to shift the accused from Karachi to NAB Rawalpindi’s sub-office Gilgit.
According to reliable sources, the final attempt of NAB to sell properties of those involved in fraud, will not prove fruitful as the looters had already sold them out before any attempt on the part of the bureau.
NAB, after the court’s verdict, was willing to auction the property owned by one of the main accused of the scam, however, they later came to know that the properties had already been sold by the accused.
Interestingly, the Big Board had established several offices that were inaugurated by the influential folks of those areas, including social, religious and political figures in order to gain the public’s trust in the company.
The scam victims have continuously been demanding that the government recover their money from the charlatans; some of them have even threatened to commit self-immolation and suicide in case their money remains unrecovered.
The scam is the biggest financial scandal in the history of GB. The sources said NAB had so far recovered Rs15 million from the Big Board, however, Rs184.3 million was still to be recovered.