NAB files reference against former premier Abbasi, 9 others in LNG case

December 03, 2019

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Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was arrested in connection with the LNG case in July. — DawnNewsTV/File
Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was arrested in connection with the LNG case in July. — DawnNewsTV/File

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Rawalpindi on Tuesday filed a reference in the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import contract case against 10 accused, including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail and former Pakistan State Oil (PSO) managing director Sheikh Imranul Haq.

The accountability bureau submitted the reference in an accountability court in Islamabad. According to the reference, one company received benefits of over Rs21 billion between March 2015 and September of this year.

Additionally, the reference stated that the national exchequer will suffer a loss of Rs47bn by 2029 because of the contract.

Former Ogra chairman Saeed Ahmed Khan, Ogra chairperson Uzma Adil Khan, chairman of the Engro group Hussain Dawood, former chairman PQA Agha Jan Akhtar, former member Ogra Aamir Naseem, former PSO MD Shahid M Islam and Abdul Sammad have also been named in the reference.

Both main accused persons — Abbasi and Ismail — have been behind bars for over four months in this case, while Haq obtained pre-arrest bail last Tuesday from the Islamabad High Court.

A source had told Dawn on Monday that of 10 persons accused, against whom the reference has been framed, two are said to have turned approvers. The source added that NAB believed that corruption of some Rs20 billion had occurred in the scam.

Abbasi was arrested in connection with the case in July. He is accused of awarding a 15-year contract for a terminal against the rules when he was the petroleum minister in former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet. The case was closed by NAB in 2016 but then reopened in 2018.

On Jan 2, NAB’s executive board authorised investigations against Abbasi, being former minister for petroleum and natural resources, for his alleged involvement in irregularities in the import of LNG.

However, Abbasi has said several times in the recent past that he did not commit any illegality in the award of contracts for LNG import, and could, therefore, prove his innocence at any forum. He has presented the view that the import of LNG was the need of the time in 2013, when the country was facing an acute shortage of gas.

In April, the government imposed a travel ban on Abbasi, Ismail and five other persons in this case.