Verdict reserved in graft case against ex-PSM chief

Published January 8, 2020
An accountability court reserved on Tuesday its verdict in a corruption reference against a former chairman of the Pakistan Steel Mills and two others. — Reuters/File
An accountability court reserved on Tuesday its verdict in a corruption reference against a former chairman of the Pakistan Steel Mills and two others. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: An accountability court reserved on Tuesday its verdict in a corruption reference against a former chairman of the Pakistan Steel Mills and two others.

Ousted PSM chief Moin Aftab Shaikh along with ex-director (commercial) Sameen Asghar and Capt Rasheed Abro of the Nobel Resources Singapore has been charged with committing irregularities in the purchase of raw material which caused Rs4.9 billion loss to the exchequer.

On Tuesday, Judge Farid Anwar Qazi of the Accountability Court-IV reserved his judgement after recording evidence and final arguments from both sides.

The verdict is likely to be pronounced on Jan 28.

According to the prosecution, though the PSM had 867 tonnes of imported met coke, its management signed an agreement with Noble Resources Singapore in September 2008 to buy over 685 tonnes of met coke at a higher price, but the commercial department of the PSM had failed to justify the rates and the quantity.

It further stated that the suspects had also deliberately shown a shortage of coal and despite having knowledge about a decline in prices of coal in the international market, they imported 50,000 tonnes of coal from Australia, causing a loss of Rs4.9bn to the national exchequer.

The suspects were also accused of not considering the advice of the board of directors to constitute a high-level committee to bargain with different firms for the purchase of met coke and coal, it added.

Initially, the Federal Investigation Agency had launched an inquiry into the alleged scam after the Supreme Court in 2009 initiated suo motu proceedings on PSM’s affairs and subsequently transferred the investigation to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

NAB had filed around eight references against the ex-chairman and other senior officers and contractors. Of them, an accountability court had in September 2019 acquitted Mr Shaikh and Mr Asghar in an identical case pertaining to alleged Rs4.19bn corruption in import of raw materials.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2020

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