ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday summoned former finance minister Miftah Ismail on June 20 for validating controversial contracts of the sale of natural gas liquids (NGLs).

Mr Ismail, who served as the chairman of the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) from November 2013 to October 2018, has been summoned by NAB as being the former chairman of the company and not as former minister.

However, Mr Ismail has now joined the club of those Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders who are facing NAB investigation despite the fact that he had served as finance minister only for 50 days.

Many lawmakers and ministers belonging to the previous PML-N government are facing NAB investigation. They include former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former finance minister Ishaq Dar, former foreign minister Khawaja Asif, former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal, former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, former minister for inter-provincial coordination Riaz Pirzada and retired Capt Safdar, former member of the National Assembly and son-in-law of Mr Sharif.

Ex-minister has been called in his capacity as former chairman of Sui Southern Gas Company

In March 2016, NAB had already made a reference of Rs17 billion on the issue of the NGLs sale which is being tried in an accountability court in Karachi.

NAB wrote a letter to Mr Ismail on Thursday asking him to appear before its official in Karachi on June 20 along with the relevant record to substantiate his statement.

“You are requested to appear before Abdul Fateh, a deputy director of the NAB Karachi on June 20 at 10am along with relevant record available with you (if any) for recording your statement/plea in the subject case,” the NAB’s letter said.

It said the competent authority had taken the cognizance on allegation of corruption and corrupt practices by the officials of SSGCL in the award of national natural assets to private company Jamshoro Joint Venture Limited (JJVL) and illegal sale of NGLs by the said company and others, which was punishable under the provision of National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999.

“The investigation has revealed that during the period of your chairmanship of SSGCL, you have chaired the SSGCL board of directors’ meeting in which the decision for illegal award of precious five gas fields to JJVL through only MoUs have been validated at the unevaluated and exorbitant rates, violated the orders of the Supreme Court and also attended the meeting of Record and Discussion (RoD) through decision favouring JJVL,” the letter further said.

In February 2018, an accountability court had indicted former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain along with former top officials of SSGCL and the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) in the same reference for allegedly misusing his authority and fraudulently awarding contracts of five gas fields to the JJVL.

Other accused in the reference are: former managing directors of the SSGC Khalid Rehman, Zuhair Siddiqui and Azeem Iqbal Siddiqui, former OGDC MD Basharat Mirza, the then deputy MDs of gas utility, Yousuf Jamil Ansari and Shoaib Warsi, former SSGC general manager treasury and finance Malik Usman and JJVL chief executive officer Iqbal Z. Ahmed.

NAB claimed that the former minister and officials allowed the 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.

It further said that the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and natural gas liquids (NGLs) extracted at an exorbitant rate was illegally allowed and the excessive rate caused losses of Rs474.6 million and Rs4.14bn to the OGDC and the SSGC, respectively. The excessive NGLs processing charges was Rs1.45bn, outstanding NGLs payments stood at Rs3.4bn and outstanding payments for LPG amounted to Rs7.87bn.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2018


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