KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday arrested former managing director (MD) of Pakistan Interna­t­ional Air­lines (PIA) and a senior off­i­cer on charges of illegal app­ointment of a Pa­k­­istani American to a sen­­ior position at the nat­ional flag carrier at a huge salary package in violation of human resource department rules, according to officials.

The FIA’s Corporate Cri­me Circle, Karachi arrested former PIA MD Aijaz Haroon and former Human Resource director Moham­mad Haneef Pathan, said FIA Deputy Director Abdur Rauf Shaikh.

The officer said the FIA had registered an FIR against the two suspects on charges of illegal appointment of Salim Sayani as deputy managing director (DMD) in PIA in 2009 in “clear violation of PIA HR rules”. Mr Sayani has also been booked in the case.

The FIA officer said the DMD had been appointed on a monthly salary of $20,000 along with other perks and privileges that caused huge loss to the national exchequer.

Sharing details of the perks and privileges, the officer said apart from the salary in US dollars, he was allowed to stay at a five-star hotel for three months and his family was also provided accommodation in Dubai on PIA’s expense.

Mr Shaikh said that one such illegal appointment of Mr Sayani in PIA for a period of two years caused a loss between Rs200 million and Rs250 million to the national exchequer.

The arrests were made after an initial inquiry that traced violations of regulations for the appointment of deputy managing director of the national flag carrier. Nor any advertisement was published in newspapers before the appointment nor other candidates were invited to complete the hiring process in accordance with PIA rules. The inquiry also revealed that the human resource department failed to adopt any procedure to ascertain market-based salary.

According to the FIA, the appointment of Mr Sayani was made in clear violation of PIA Act 1956, and even the approval of the then federal government was not obtained for the appointment as per record.

Last year, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had arrested Mr Haroon, the former managing director of the national carrier, who was also chairman of the ‘Overseas Cooperative Society’, for allegedly selling a dozen of plots to fake allottees. He allegedly used fake bank accounts to launder Rs144m for Omni Group, according to the bureau.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2020