ISLAMABAD: An accountability court here on Wednesday released an accused in the fake accounts case as he turned approver against other accused.

However, the accountability court judge sent another accused, former chairman of the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company Khursheed Jamali, to jail on judicial remand following his refusal to enter a plea-bargain deal with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The NAB prosecution produced Nadeem Altaf, executive vice president of the Sindh Bank, before Judge Mohammad Bashir and submitted an application stating that since the accused has turned approver and the NAB chairman has pardoned him, the court may set him free and include his name in the witnesses list.

On July 10, the Rawalpindi NAB in coordination with the Karachi NAB had arrested Tariq Ahsan, president of the Sindh Bank, Nadeem Altaf, and Bilal Sheikh, former president of the bank currently working as its director, in connection with the fake accounts case.

Another suspect sent to jail following his refusal to enter a plea-bargain

Later, Nadeem Altaf agreed to become an approver against other accused.

The bank officials face charges of granting loans worth Rs1.8 billion to Seracom Stock and Capital Private Limited, Parkview Stock Capital Limited and Rubicon Builders and Developers Private Limited. These companies are owned by the Omni Group.

Meanwhile, Khursheed Jamali, who was caught in connection with the Nooriabad reference and was willing to seek acquittal under plea-bargain, backtracked and opted to go for legal proceedings.

Sources in the prosecution said that NAB had estimated over Rs100 million for the plea-bargain deal.

Other accused in the Nooriabad reference — Syed Asif Mahmood, chief executive officer of Technomen Kinetic Pvt Ltd, and Syed Arif Ali, director of Nooriabad Power Company — have already agreed to pay Rs2.12bn under a plea-bargain deal under Section 25(b) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

NAB stated that the suspects had been taken into custody for extending illegal favours to Technomen Kinetic Pvt Ltd and others in projects of Sindh Nooriabad Power Company and Sindh Transmission and Dispatch Company, causing a loss of $16 million to the national exchequer.

The Nooriabad power project was originally conceived by the Sindh government in 2012, but could not be materialised.

The project was finally launched in August 2014 under public-private partnership at a cost of Rs13bn in which the Sindh government held 49 per cent shares and a private company owned 51pc.

A 95km long, 132kV double-circuit transmission line was laid from Nooriabad to Karachi at a cost of Rs1.95bn.

Khursheed Jamali, who was then director of the Sindh Nooriabad Power Company Ltd, said in 2017 that the plant would use gas to produce 100MW of power at less than Rs10 per unit, as compared to Rs15 per unit charged by the Water and Power Development Authority.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2019