Court extends judicial remand of Abbasi, Ismail in LNG case
ISLAMABAD: An accountability court in Islamabad has extended judicial remand of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail and former managing-director of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) Sheikh Imranul Haq till December 3 in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal case, ARY News reported on Tuesday.
The accountability court resumed the hearing of LNG terminal case where Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Miftah Ismail and Imranul Haq were produced.
The lawyer representing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) told the court that the institution’s head approved a corruption reference against the accused persons which would be filed at earliest.
Defence lawyer raised objections over the custody of his client. During the hearing, Abbasi said that the NAB authorities should be questioned for the nature of case under investigation.
He said that baseless criticism was being lodged for the last one year against him for the provision of expensive LNG which later turns out to be the lowest rate as compared to India and Bangladesh. He criticised NAB authorities, saying that the anti-corruption watchdog should show some courage to tell the court for the LNG rates.
NAB lawyer apprised court that LNG reference is ready to be filed as it gets approval from the regional bureau. The corruption reference will be filed within 14 days after its final approval from the NAB headquarters.
While answering to the objections of Abbasi’s lawyer, the NAB prosecutor replied that the charges which the former premier is facing would be given in the corruption reference.
He said that the accused persons have the right to apply for bail on the concerned forum if they are having any complaint about imprisonment. The lawyer detailed that the suspects have not moved to any concerned forum to get bail.
The lawyer also sought an extension of judicial remand of the suspects from the court.
Defence lawyers pleaded the accountability court’s judge to permit joint sitting of all accused persons for preparations of the next hearing. To this, the judge remarked that the defence side could finalise preparations inside the court’s room. He asked authorities to allow Abbasi for meeting his lawyers.
Later, the court extended judicial remand of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Miftah Ismail and Sheikh Imranul Haq till December 3 and adjourned the hearing.
The former prime minister is facing charges of corruption and awarding a LNG import contract at exorbitant rates in 2015, which caused a big loss to the national exchequer. Sources said that he had granted a tender worth Rs220 bn to a firm in which he himself was a shareholder.
NAB sources said that Abbasi, in 2013, had awarded a LNG import and distribution contract to the Elengy Terminal in violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules and relevant laws.
Abbasi is also accused of misusing his authority during his stint as petroleum minister. The case was registered on a complaint by Shahid Sattar – an energy expert and former member of the Planning Commission and the SSGC board of directors – on July 29, 2015.
Earlier on April 26, the names of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail and five others had been placed in exit control list in an inquiry into the LNG scandal.
Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal had earlier approved an inquiry against Shahid Khaqan, Miftah Ismail and others for their alleged role in the LNG scandal.
Chairperson Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA)Uzma Adil Khan, former MD Pakistan State Oil (PSO) Imranul Haq, Mubeen Saulat, Shahid Islamuddin, Amir Naseem and other officials had been placed in the ECL, sources had said.