By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

While I’m not interested in getting involved in the controversy about Lt. Gen Rizwan Akhtar and his brother’s involvement in the PIA Airplane scam.

But here’s what I know. 

1. The plane was technically a “dead asset” in flying jargon, i.e not allowed to fly. But listed as a “live asset” on papers.

2. PIA did a two part deal. Part 1 was to loan it to the movie company making a movie about the Israeli commando raid on Entebbe for which the plane was to be flown to Malta. From there it was to be flown to Germany to be sold as scrap or “donated to a museum”.

3. The most valuable parts being the  Engines and auxiliary power unit (APU) would have been sold to a bidder under a tender to be floated before being given to the museum.

4. The then CEO PIA contracted a German consultant, Helmut, to facilitate the sale.

5. Air Cdr Akhtar was then Director Procurement in PIA and generated all the documentation for this two part deal which was approved by the PIA board and one time permission granted by the regulator for the flight to Malta and then to Germany.

6. The plane was then rented to the French/Israeli company for the movie scenes for 140,000 Euros and flown to Malta.  Once the movie was done the AC was flown to Leipzig, Germany.

7. It’s here where the smoke starts to rise. Apparently, Helmut the consultant brought in by the former PIA CEO,  had set up a company, owned by him, which was then going to buy the engines and the APU, once the plane arrived in Germany, before being “donated to the museum” and make a cool profit! Perhaps shared between the key players who facilitated this deal

8. This was a clear case of conflict of interest. Whether the German CEO and Air Cdr Akhtar were in on this scam is not known. But it’s unlikely that they couldn’t have been given their actions subsequently in which both escaped. One to Germany. The other back to the Air Force.

9. When the plane flew, somebody in PIA blew the whistle and an internal inquiry and then an FIA criminal investigation commenced.

10. At this time there was an attempt and create some back dated documentation to show the plane as a “dead asset” in documents. Allegedly Air Cdr Akhtar was the prime mover who did this.  Shades of Calibri font etc. As always, they messed up the dates and the FIA started to look deeper.

11. The German CEO of PIA was fired and put on ECL. Air Cdr Akhtar refused to appear before the FIA, as he was now repatriated back to PAF and reverted to service in uniform. He took the plea that because he was a serving airforce officer and under the Ministry of Defense rules and therefore  the FIA had to make a formal request to question him by moving this request  via Ministry of Defense and Air HQ. And thus he saved himself from being interrogated or questioned by the FIA team.

12. The tenders floated to “sell” the plane to one Herr Helmut, were then withdrawn as a result of the FIA investigation. 

13. The EX CEO took a plea that his wife was sick and he was he was thus allowed to leave Pakistan.

14.  Herr Helmut the so called consultant also made good his escape before the ……hit the ceiling and Air Cdr Akhtar, now on LPR, found refuge in his uniform. 

15. The plane is now parked in Leipzig, Germany, still owned by PIA  and being charged demurrage for Parking. Apparently this is being now paid out of $60,000 dues  payable to the former PIA German CEO by PIA.

That’s what I know and everyone is free to draw their own conclusions.

Salaams and prayers
Haider Mehdi

Clarification received from Chairman PIA on my comments about the PIA scam above.

Chairman PIA Clarification and quote.

“Few corrections. PIA Board did not approve it. Instead ordered action against these people. Due to this the services of CEO were terminated. Second the deal of Malta was of 114,000 Euros. Thirdly ACdre Imran was repatriated forthwith by PIA management and he didn’t opt to go back. Tenders were floated to sell the plane but not to Mr Helmut. His company was bidder of six engines”

Message to me from Germany, by the former German PIA CEO, Bernd Hildebrand cited in the scandal in response to Chairman PIA Clarification. 

Bernd Hildebrand quote:
(Grammer and spellings are his)

“Wrong. This guy (the Chairman, PIA) is a lier. I  didn’t hire Mr Helmut. He worked for a consultant before my time. Board was always fully involved. Former Chairman always was involved. The A 310 were at the end of their lifespan. Pakistan should be happy we even made money out of junk. In every normal country I would have been appraised. There are too many people who talk about things they only know of by rumours or false information!! And too many people make a scandal about normal Business!” Unquote.

– Haider Mehdi.

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