KARACHI: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) submitted another reference on Saturday against former petroleum minister Dr Asim Hussain and others in an accountability court for alleged corruption of over Rs17 billion.

Dr Asim, a close aide of former president Asif Ali Zardari, along with the managing director of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGCL), Khalid Rehman, as well as former senior officials of the gas utility and the Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDCL), has been accused in the reference of misusing authority to fraudulently award contracts of five gas fields to Jamshoro Joint Venture Limited (JJVL).

The reference, filed by a NAB investigating officer, alleged that the suspects had caused losses to the national exchequer to the tune of Rs17.34bn.

According to the breakdown, the OGDCL and SSGCL suffered losses of Rs474.6 million and Rs4.14b respectively, while excessive natural gas liquid (NGL) processing charges were Rs1.45bn, outstanding NGL payments stood at Rs3.4bn and outstanding payments for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) amounted to Rs7.87bn.

Besides Dr Asim, who is already facing a reference and a terrorism-related case, the bureau also named SSGCL managing director Khalid Rehman, former MDs Zuhair Siddiqui, Azeem Iqbal Siddiqui and Shoaib Warsi, former deputy MD Yousuf Jamil Ansari, former general manager of treasury and finance, Malik Usman, former OGDCL MD Basharat Mirza, former OGDCL AGM Zahid Bakhtiar and JJVL CEO Iqbal Z Ahmed as co-accused.

The reference claimed that the suspects allowed JJVL to illegally process gas of Kunar Pasakhi Deep, Bobi, Sinjhoro, Naimat Basal and Badin gas fields without an open auction, agreement and memorandum of understanding. The IO submitted the reference along with an investigation report, a list of 27 prosecution witnesses and other documentary evidence.

The administrative judge of accountability courts in Karachi, Saad Qureshi, admitted the reference and fixed the case for hearing on March 9.

HEARING ADJOURNED: The same court adjourned the hearing of another reference against Dr Asim till March 17 since the jail authorities did not produce him on what they described as medical grounds. NAB had filed the reference against Dr Asim, former petroleum secretary Ejaz Chaudhry and others last month for alleged corruption of over Rs460 billion.

Moreover, an anti-terrorism court adjourned another case against Dr Asim relating to the provision of treatment and shelter to alleged terrorists, till March 22.

The former federal minister has been booked on the complaint of a Rangers official for allegedly treating and harbouring terrorists and gangsters wounded in shootouts with law enforcers at the North Nazimabad and Clifton branches of his hospital at the behest of MQM and PPP leaders.

A jail official informed the ATC-II that they could not present Dr Asim in court on account of ill health.

The court yet again issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of absconders Anis Kaimkhani, Saleem Shahzad and Qadir Patel and extended the interim pre-arrest bail of MQM leaders, Waseem Akhtar and Rauf Siddiqui, till the next hearing.

The court also dismissed an application of Usman Moazzam of socio-political group, Pasban, seeking better facilities in prison.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2016

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