Although one-time permission given to former PIA CEO German national Bernd Hildenbrand to fly home for thirty days expired on June 10, he did not return to Pakistan to face corruption charges.
Bernd’s name was placed on Exit Control List (ECL) for his alleged involvement in the lease of A330 aircrafts for much-trumpeted start of Premium Service. Similar excessive payments have been made on the lease of A320 aircrafts in the use of PIA.
FIA sources have revealed that a PIA A310, which was airworthy and flew to Germany, was sold to a German company for €45,000, although the same aircraft was hired by a company in Malta for 10 days at a cost of €210,000 of which its book value was estimated to be $3.1 million.
PIA Board of Directors headed by former chairman and Aviation secretary had given approval to the leasing agreement; negotiated by a committee comprising of CEO Bernd, Director of Corporate Planning, Director of Engineering, Director of Flight Operations and CFO for the leasing of the A330 from Sri Lankan Airlines at over $8,000 per hour despite a similar aircraft had been procured on a lease by another private Pakistani registered airline for approximately $4000 per hour.
It should be noted that every Pakistani registered airline under regulatory control of CAA Pakistan has to submit a complete record of leasing contracts to the regulator for granted permission to operate aircrafts for scheduled commercial airline services. Both PIA and the CAA Board of Directors were headed by Secretary of Aviation of which many other members of board were on the governing board of both these state owned institutions. It can be safely assumed that the Chairman of the CAA Board of Directors was aware of the cost of leasing these aircrafts by private airlines.
PM’s Adviser on Aviation Sardar Mehtab Abbasi had given the go-ahead to FIA to investigate further into these massive corruption scams that have eroded PIA for some time. He has also issued instructions to give exemplary punishments to those PIA employees involved in financial and administrative indiscipline.
While numerous parliamentarians have lost their seats for submitting fake educational degrees and face criminal charges, over 300 PIA regular and contractual employees continue to be on payrolls even after it has been established that their basic degrees submitted to their employer were fake.
Former CEO Bernd was placed on ECL pending investigation by FIA for massive corruption and was barred from leaving the country. He was hired during tenure of Chairman Nasir Jaffer. In a surprising move, the Ministry of Interior gave him special permission for 30 days on 4 May 2017 knowing full well, that as a German citizen, once he leaves the country, other than through Red Warrants issued through Interpol, it would be difficult to ensure that he returns. Investigations into this probe seem to have been landed in cold storage as have numerous other investigations ordered in massive corruption in loss-making white elephants like PIA, PSM, CAA, etc.
An FIA official said investigations have been halted only for the reason that the main accused is not present in the country. On his arrival investigations will be started again, he said and added, “I am sure that he will be back since he was permitted to leave country after assurance of German Embassy sources”. (The Nation Reported)