CM summoned by NAB today

September 17, 2019

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KARACHI: After being questioned in the fake accounts case earlier this year, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has been summoned again by the National Accountability Bureau today [Tuesday] to question him for his alleged role in offering subsidies to sugar mills through improper channels, sources and officials said.

A NAB official confirmed that the anti-graft body has summoned the provincial chief executive in the city for Tuesday morning but did not divulge further details.

Mr Shah earlier appeared before the Supreme Court-formed joint investigation team (JIT) in Islamabad, which was probing the 29 fake accounts’ case involving over Rs30 billion deposited by seven firms/companies. Top PPP leaders were allegedly beneficiaries of some of these fake accounts.

A source familiar with the proceedings of the JIT told Dawn that when the issue of provision of subsidies to four to five sugar mills came under deliberation, there was divergence of opinion among the members.

Murad to be probed in sugar mills’ subsidies case

Some members of the JIT contended that this was beyond their mandate as the JIT was supposed to probe the fake bank accounts only.

Subsequently, it was agreed that NAB would separately conduct probe into it. Therefore, the anti-graft body had established CIT (combined investigation team) led by NAB director Rawalpindi Irfan Mangi.

The source said that NAB’s CIT has summoned the Sindh CM now.

Regarding the case, the source said that when Murad Ali Shah was finance minister, subsidies were given to certain sugar mills including closed Thatta sugar mills, Dadu sugar mills etc.

One of the stated purposes of such subsidies was to “revive sick industrial units” but that money was not utilised for intended purposes.

Another official said that the Sindh CM was also facing probe by NAB in the Nooriabad power project in which three persons had already been arrested in May.

According to NAB, they were arrested for extending illegal favours to Technomen Kinetic Pvt Ltd and others in projects of Sindh Nooriabad Power Company and Sindh Transmission & Dispatch Company (STDC), causing a $16 million loss to the national exchequer.

The Nooriabad power project was originally conceived by the Sindh government in 2012, but could not materialise then due to “red-tapism and delays in regulatory approvals.”

The project was finally launched in Aug 2014 under a 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.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2019