IESCO collects millions of rupees through fake bills

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel grilled officers of the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) over embezzlement of millions of rupees through collection of bogus bills from power consumers.

The billing department of Iesco continued to fleece the consumers over the past four years, but neither the company management nor the audit firm unearthed the scam.

Iesco CEO Shahid Iqbal told the Senate Standing Committee on Power that through bogus and fake stamps electricity bills were collected from power consumers and in a single day embezzlement of Rs43 million was detected.

He acknowledged that the scam had been going on unchecked for the past four years. “We have terminated officers of the Finance Department (involved in the scandal),” he said.

He also revealed that power consumers were also involved in the fraud as they were depositing the bills in the Revenue Office-I with 30% discount.

The head of Circle-I Revenue Office was found involved in the fraud. Cumulatively, Rs239 million had been embezzled in the past two years as the amount was not deposited in the company accounts. Revenue officer of the Circle-I has been arrested.

The CEO said now the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was handling the matter and was further investigating the case.

Committee Chairman Fida Muhammad Khan asked the CEO whether Iesco was asleep when misappropriation of millions of rupees a day was being done by officials of the company. “It means other distribution companies may also be facing such a situation,” he pointed out.

Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak asked the Power Division to direct all the distribution companies to check their record and provide details to the committee. He also sought details of such cases unearthed in the distribution companies over the past 10 years.

Responding to that, the Power Division secretary said he would give orders to all the companies to comply with the instructions.

Senator Wazir asked as to why the private sector audit firm did not unearth the fraud. The committee would also discuss the issue with officials of the Auditor General of Pakistan in its next meeting.

Wazir emphasised that the distribution companies should not waste money on the installation of AMI meters as the solution to power theft and illegal connections was in laying Aerial Bundled Cables.

Senator Sirajul Haq questioned as why the government was not introducing a pre-paid card system in the power sector as the system was successfully working in other countries.