|Islamabad property: EOBI strikes a dubious deal with private party|
28 August 2012
The Employees Oldage Benefit Institution (EOBI) has struck a dubious deal for the purchase of property in Islamabad at the exorbitant price of Rs1.02 billion – almost 100% more than its market price.
Sources told the Express Investigation Cell (EIC) that the EOBI struck the deal for the Crown Plaza in F-7 Markaz with one Abdul Qayyum.
The Crown Plaza deal speaks volumes for wrongdoings within the EOBI, an organisation meant to manage workers’ fund, which has earned a reputation of making questionable deals with private parties.
The entire process of the deal was done without lawful authority, as it was not presented to the Board of Trustees (BoT) for approval. According to rules, it is mandatory for the EOBI to seek approval from the board for any deals involving billions of rupees of workers’ fund. However, the institution’s management avoids facing the BoT in most property deals for which it thinks the outcome could be adverse.
Furthermore, signatories of the deal happen to be unauthorised employees of the EOBI – Syed Iqbal Haider Zaidi could be quoted for a ready reference. Zaidi is neither an investment committee member nor a competent authority for inking such agreements.
Secondly, all three witness signatories in the deal are EOBI employees, raising serious legal questions, such as why no one witnessed the deal agreement from the seller’s side.
Oddly enough, the size of the plot has been excluded from the deal agreement so that no one could raise questions over its total size.
Independent analysts say the value of the Crown Plaza stands between Rs550 million to Rs 600 million. A loss of Rs600 million will be caused to the national exchequer with this single purchase.
When contacted, EOBI chairman Zafar Iqbal Gondal refused to comment on the Crown Plaza deal, saying simply, “I do not want to comment on the issue as the media is intentionally misleading everyone on EOBI investment issues.”
Gondal also refused to respond to different key questions raised by the EIC, such as why the EOBI failed to seek the approval of BoT before sealing the Crown Plaza deal with a private party; and who evaluated the property of the Crown Plaza to set its price at Rs1.02 billion.
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