KARACHI: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Saturday claimed to have picked up five suspects in Karachi, Islamabad and Hunza in the Rs63 billion scam involving the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and private oil firms.

While the three suspects held in Karachi were produced before an accountability court on Thursday for remand, a former senior general manager and an ex-general manager of PSO will be produced before a court on Monday after completing legal formalities for transit.

The suspects — former general manager (supply) of PSOCL Akhter Zameer, former chief operating officer of Byco Pakistan Petroleum Ltd (BPPL) Kamran Iftikhar Lari, and former CEO of Byco Oil Pakistan Ltd (BOPL) Qaiser Jamal — were arrested in Karachi on July 11.

In other raids, NAB arrested former general manager (retail, consumer business) of PSO and CEO of Jinn Petroleum Syed Zulfiqar Ali Jaffery in Islamabad and former senior general manager (marketing) of PSO Dr Syed Nazar A. Zaidi in Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan.

NAB to produce two former PSO officials before accountability court tomorrow

According to NAB, the five suspects were wanted in a petroleum sale and purchase scam. The PSO was accused of making illegal agreements with oil firms, which caused colossal loss to the national exchequer.

The suspects in connivance with each other awarded an illegal contract of crude oil supply worth Rs2.43 billion to BPPL in 2008-09 against which no payment was received.

According to NAB, it was established that the former PSO officials abused their authority by entering into an illegal contract of sale and purchase of petroleum products with Byco Oil Pakistan Ltd (BOPL) in 2012 for supply of petroleum products to PSO despite the fact that BOPL was commissioned in 2013. As a result of the illegal agreement, substandard products were supplied to the PSO that caused loss of Rs60 billion to the national exchequer.

During the course of investigation, NAB found that then PSO management abused its authority by entering into another illegal agreement with BPPL for sales and purchase of petroleum products, whereby the PSO supplied superior quality imported products (HSD & Petrol) to BPPL at abnormally subsidised rates, causing loss to the national exchequer.

“Three agreements were entered into by PSO with mala fide and illegal considerations of extending favours to blue-eyed companies in petroleum business and with intention of personal illegal gains,” said a NAB official.

The entire scam caused Rs63.687 billion loss to the national exchequer, according to a NAB press release.

On July 12, an accountability court remanded former GM (supply) of PSOCL Akhter Zameer and former CEO of BOPL Qaiser Jamal in NAB custody for 13 days each. The court, however, sent former chief operating officer of BPPL Kamran Iftikhar Lari to judicial custody on medical grounds. The suspects arrested from Islamabad and Hunza will be produced before a court on Monday.

NAB sources told Dawn that petroleum prices were set on PSO’s import landing cost, which was higher than the ex-refinery prices and import cost of other oil marketing companies (OMCs). Resultantly, the sources added, refineries and OMCs ‘earned huge profit’. It was for this reason that all managing directors of PSO appointed since 2009 had been taken from the petroleum industry, the sources in NAB said.

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2018