‘Raja Ashraf’s name included in RPP scam references’

August 07, 2013

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Former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf
Former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has included the name of former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in three references in the Rs22 billion Rental Power Projects (RPP) scam, according to well-placed sources in NAB.

They said the former premier’s name had been included not just in two references but also in a third one, which is related to the Naudero-II Power Project.

Earlier, NAB had not mentioned his name in the first reference even though it was said that being a principal accused his name should be included in the case.

Talking to Dawn, NAB spokesman Ramzan Sajid did not confirm whether the name of former premier had been included in the RPP references or not, but he agreed that investigation into the scam was in an advance stage.

The sources said NAB’s Rawalpindi/Islamabad region had sent two fresh cases relating to Piraghaib Power Project and Sahuwal Power Project to its headquarters for turning them into references.

However, the fresh cases have not been sent to an accountability court because for it NAB needs approval and signature of its chairman.

The office NAB chairman has been vacant since the removal of former chairman retired Admiral Fasih Bokhari by the Supreme Court on July 28.

According to NAB’s procedure, after completion of investigation a case is sent to its headquarters and presented before the bureau’s executive board. If the board approves the case it is referred to the chairman for final nod and then the case is filed as reference in an accountability court.

In the RPP scam, nine firms were accused of receiving more than Rs22 billion as mobilisation advance from the government to commission the projects, but most of them did not set up their plants and a few which installed some plants after an inordinate delay. Of the total recoverable amount of Rs22 billion, NAB has so far recovered Rs5 billion, in addition to Rs8 billion paid by the firms on the directives of the Supreme Court.

Mr Ashraf has been accused of having received kickbacks and commission in the RPP deal when he was federal minister for water and power in 2008.

Mr Ashraf appeared before NAB investigators on May 17 and recorded a brief statement.

The spokesman said the former prime minister had been given a questionnaire and he sought time till June 3 to answer it.