Multi-billion rupee scam: SC dismisses ad agency owner's bail application

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme C0urt (SC), on Tuesday, dismissed the pre-arrest bail application of advertising agency owner Inam Akbar and others in the case of embezzling more than Rs5 billion.

M/S Midas Advertising’s is facing charges of embezzling more than Rs5 billion in advertisement payments for electronic media.

The three judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa also rejected the pre-arrest bail application of Sindh’s former information minister Sharjeel Memon in the same case.

Sharjeel siphoned off Rs5.77b through ad tenders

While the bench observed that Memon has already been arrested, it stated, however, that he can apply for after-arrest bail in the Sindh High Court (SHC).

A National Accountability Bureau (NAB) investigation revealed earlier this year that Memon, in his capacity as information minister, had violated multiple laws in dealing with advertising agencies, ignoring official rates and letting them charge exorbitant prices.

Some advertising companies, close to the minister, were given advertisements without inviting tenders which is a prerequisite. All official guidelines as well as the official per minute rates for both television (TV) and radio ads were ignored in the process.

Sharjeel, by overstepping his boundaries, also approved a media plan proposed by advertising agencies without even investigating it first. Later, the former minister with the help of Information Secretary Zulfikar Ali Shalwani and other officials used back-dated documents to legalise the approval.

The investigation also revealed that the bills that were actually issued from the TV and radio channels were kept hidden by the advertising agencies in question, and exuberantly priced bills were issued to the information ministry in their place.

Accountability watchdog triumphs in six-hour game of ‘NAB me if you can’

According to the existing rules, an advertising agency is entitled to 15% of the total bill as commission, but they received far more than their fair share, thanks to the approval of the fabricated bills by the ministry.

Shalwani was also guilty of appointing a junior officer out of turn as advertisement director, who also helped run this scam.

According to the references, officials from the information ministry and advertising agencies drained the national exchequer through the well thought-out plan.

The NAB references named 17 people, of which the interim bail applications of 14 were cancelled on Tuesday, with prompt arrest orders for those present in court.

Previously, Midas Advertising’s Inam Akbar and former information director Yousuf Kaboro could not be arrested as they did not appear for the hearing.

Hearing adjourned till first week of January

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