NAB approves fresh references against Shahbaz, ex-PM Abbasi

Updated 29 Jul 2020

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Shehbaz Sharif to face probe for accumulating assets beyond means; former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will face the first corruption case related to LNG contract. — AFP/Fil
Shehbaz Sharif to face probe for accumulating assets beyond means; former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will face the first corruption case related to LNG contract. — AFP/Fil

ISLAMABAD: The National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday approved filing of separate references against top leadership of main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz —former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and his sons.

Another reference will be filed against officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for selling the building of the Pakistan embassy in Jakarta allegedly at less than the market price.

According to the decisions taken at a meeting of the NAB Executive Board presided over by its chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal, Mr Abbasi will face the first corruption case related to a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) contract. Former finance minister Miftah Ismail is a co-accused in this reference.

Mr Sharif and his sons will face a fresh reference for what NAB claimed “accumulating assets beyond known source of income”.

Ex-ambassador to face corruption charges related to sale of embassy building

NAB told the media after the meeting that the reference had been approved against Mr Sharif, his sons Hamza and Salman and others over accumulation of assets worth Rs7.328 billion which were disproportionate to their known sources of income.

According to NAB, an investigation has revealed that Mr Sharif and his co-accused family members had accumulated these assets with the help of benamidars and front men. The Sharifs allegedly laundered their disproportionate funds under the garb of foreign remittances and loans, which have been proved to be fake/fictitious. The accused persons were also operating benami companies registered in the name of their employees/associates to place the proceeds of crimes for their own benefit, NAB claimed.

The second (supplementary) reference has been approved against Mr Abbasi, Mr Ismail, former chairman of the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) board; Sheikh Imran ul Haq, former CEO of Engro Elengy Terminal Private Limited (EETL) and former managing director of Pakistan State Oil (PSO); Agha Jan Akhtar, former chairman of Port Qasim Authority (PQA); Saeed Ahmed Khan, former chairman of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra); Aamir Naseem; former member oil, Ogra; Uzma Adil Khan; former chairperson of Ogra; Shahid M. Islam, former MD of PSO; Husain Dawood; chairman of Engro Corporation Limited (ECL); Abdul Samad Dawood; director of ECL, and others.

The allegation is that the accused public office holders through non- transparent process awarded the LNG Terminal-1 contract.

According to NAB, the accused public office holders misused their authorities in active connivance with each other to give wrongful gains of Rs 14.146bn to the EETL/ETPL/ECL in connection with LNG Terminal-1 and also caused a loss of about Rs7.438bn for non-utilisation of unused capacity of 2nd LNG Terminal of the PGPL from March 2015 to September 2019.

Hence, total liability came to about Rs21.584b till September 2019 and the loss to be incurred over the next 10 years will amount to about Rs.47bn as the contract will expire in March 2029.

According to NAB, during the period unexplained deposits of Rs1.426bn were received in the accounts of Abdullah Kha­qan Abbasi, son of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Rs1.294bn was deposited in the bank accounts of Shahid Khaqan Abb­asi from 2013 to 2017, during which the above LNG terminal deal was struck. By concealing the origin of the deposits and layering the accused also committed offence of money laundering, NAB claimed.

The third reference has been approved against officers/officials of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and others regarding corruption and corrupt practices in the sale of the building of Pakistan embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.

According to NAB, between 2001 and 2002 retired Maj Gen Syed Mustafa Anwar Hussain, the then ambassador of Pakistan in Jakarta, sold the embassy building at a throwaway price through a non-transparent procedure and without lawful authority. The accused thereby caused a loss of $ 1.32m to the national exchequer.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2020