Pakistan news May 14, 2014

Zaka Ashraf under PCB audit cloud

An internal comprehensive audit by the PCB covering the 22-month span of former chairman Zaka Ashraf's administration has pointed to a staggering level of financial extravagance, with especially lavish spending on travel. The audit, conducted as part of the PCB's investigation of Ashraf's administration in the wake of his dismissal, looks at his two terms - between October 2011 and May 2013, and January 15 to February 10, 2014.

Among the revelations in the report:

  • Ashraf's spending on travel showed a 420% increase from his predecessor Ijaz Butt
  • Ashraf spent Rs. 10,847,472 in 22 months while Butt spent Rs. 3,415,981 in 36 months
  • Approximately Rs 14.3 million was spent on entertaining the media, five times more than during Butt's regime
  • Eight board meetings held in that period cost the PCB Rs 2.9 million on travel, accommodation and DA for the board of governors - including Rs 673,000 spent on one meeting at the Naudero Sugar Mill, owned by him
  • Hiring a Toyota Prado 14 times from an unauthorized supplier at a total cost of Rs 4.27 million

Ashraf has denied any irregularities and called it a smear campaign against him.

Ashraf had been dismissed earlier this year by Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the PCB Patron, who also dissolved the board of governors. The main reason for that was a slew of alleged financial irregularities and mismanagement of the board, though the annual budget saw a reduction of its deficit during his time.

The audit report - a copy of which is with ESPNcricinfo - is believed to be part of the defence for Ashraf's successor Najam Sethi, in a case before Islamabad High Court challenging his appointment. It has pointed out how standards and procedures adopted by Ashraf's administration violated the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority.

It has also pointed to how the PCB incurred losses worth million of rupees in sponsorship revenue opportunities in domestic cricket.

For example, in June 2013 the PCB added four more regions - Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Larkana, Dera Murad Jamali and Bahawalpur - making a total of 15; this, the report said, increased the PCB's expenditure by nearly Rs 3 million within next nine months, exclusive the cost incurred on various domestic tournaments.

The report also detailed financial irregularities on ticket purchases during Pakistan's 2012-13 tour of India; tickets worth Rs 759,047 were bought by the PCB and there is no record of whom they were given to. And nearly Rs 2.5 million was spent during the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 on tickets, again without records of the beneficiaries.

The practice of the PCB instituting an audit into alleged irregularities of a previous regime - and the report being leaked to media - is not new. The Ijaz Butt administration had commissioned another extensive independent government-organised audit of the PCB covering the tenures, upto June 2008, of three chairmen: Tauqir Zia, Shaharyar Khan and Nasim Ashraf. That report had also revealed financial ineptitude, mismanagement and wastefulness.

When asked about the audit, Ashraf said the Sethi-led board was leaking information to discredit him. "All the flimsy audit observations reported in the media by certain persons with vested interests were also baseless and are strongly denied," he told ESPNcricinfo. "They have designs to distract the attention of the general public from the mismanagement and failure in the affairs of PCB as recently Pakistan's defeat in T20 World Cup, Asia Cup. During my tenure, when I asked the PCB COO and board officials of the accounts and finance department about its financial position, they said that in your era, the PCB didn't make any financial loss."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson