Investigation finds out that GCU spent $7m on payments made to ‘ghost’ foreign staff members

The monthly salaries were paid to local bank accounts that, as per the report, belonged to the foreign staff that had opened them with the help of the school.

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An investigation found out that suspicious payments have been made to ‘ghost’ foreign staff members of the Government College University (GCU) from 2003 to 2013. It was revealed after a meticulous inquiry by NAB.

The GCU Abdus Salam School of Mathematical Sciences (AASMS), under a Foreign Faculty hiring program (FFHP) purposed by the Higher Education Commission (HEC), had appointed staff members from overseas universities for examining, educating and regulation of students for 10 years, from 2003 to 2013.

For the purpose, the AASMS received a large portion of FFHP funding worth Rs. 638 million by HEC for payment of wages and travel costs to the foreign staff. As per the report presented by the ASSMS office that had the details of the payment made to the foreign staff, 58 faculty members were appointed for a period ranging from few months and going up to 8 years in some particular situations. The monthly salaries were paid to local bank accounts that, as per the report, belonged to the foreign staff that had opened them with the help of the school.

The representatives of ASSMS, that are accountable for the distribution of the funds received from HEC under the FFHP, comprised of the Director-General at the time Dr. Allah Ditta Raza Choudary and the Finance and Administration Director Ejaz Malik.

HEC representatives that were responsible for the governing of this program and dispersal of assets to ASSMS involved former chairman Dr. Attaur Rehman, former executive director, Dr. Sohail Naqvi, and former FFHP project director Wasim Hashmi Syed.

Authentication of payments:

Current ASSMS Director General Prof G Murtaza made a three-member committee in order to authenticate the payments. The committee members include Prof Amer Iqbal, visiting Prof Fiazuddin Zaman and Administrative and Finance Officer Muhammad Imran Khan.

The investigation committee has reported that almost Rs. 638m was paid in funds for this program. However, most of the foreign faculty members had no idea of the terms and conditions and most of them had been merely visiting Pakistan for whereas HEC and GCU were made aware that they are regular staff members.

The report presented by the investigation committee purposed that there was no direct contact between the HEC and foreign faculty. The email addresses that were presented on the application form of the faculty members belonged to Dr. ADR Choudary.

The communication with the foreign faculty has shown that they weren’t paid in a number of situations and the salaries were being deposited in the local bank account. If the cheques were made out to the holders of the accounts (Foreign Faculty) when the faculty members weren’t even in Pakistan and still they were being withdrawn. This also indicates the banks’ involvement in this fraud. However, on the same hand, if the cheques were being made out to someone else rather than the account holder then clearly that person is involved in the fraud as well.

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