Wednesday, August 17, 2022

PML-N’s interim PM Khaqan Abbasi faces NAB inquiry over LNG contract


ISLAMABAD: Yet in another problem after Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s nominee for interim premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is also facing a Rs220 billion corruption inquiry being carried out by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), according to anti-corruption watchdog documents.

Abbasi was serving as Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources in the federal cabinet that was dissolved after the July 28 verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the Panama Papers case, declaring Nawaz Sharif disqualified as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The anti-corruption watchdog inquiring into a case registered back in 2015 against Abbasi for awarding a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import contract which could cause a potential $2 billion loss to the national exchequer in 15 years.

Accusing Khaqan Abbasi of misusing his authority, the case was registered on complaint of Shahid Sattar – an energy expert and former member of the Planning Commission and the SSGC board of directors – on July 29, 2015.

However, the case is still in the inquiry stage.

The contract for the LNG import and distribution was awarded to the Elengy Terminal, a subsidiary of Engro, in 2013 in violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules and relevant laws, NAB documents further revealed.

Other suspects included former petroleum secretary Abid Saeed, Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS) managing director Mobin Saulut, private firm Engro’s chief executive officer Emranul Haq and the Sui Southern Gas Company’s (SSGC) ex-MD Zuhair Ahmed Siddiqui.

On Sunday, Khaqan Abbasi met Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and addressed a news conference in Islamabad after the meeting. The former petroleum minister said he had disclosed all his assets and their details were published in the Pakistan Gazette.

The ruling party’s nominee for interim prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi dared those who accused him of involvement in embezzlement to prove it and said whoever wanted to file a reference against him should feel free to proceed.

“So those levelling baseless allegations against me should check the facts first,” he added.


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