12 importers involved in artificial oil crisis, Senate body told

Published January 15, 2021
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had found 12 top oil importers directly involved in artificial crisis of petroleum products. ─ Reuters/File
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had found 12 top oil importers directly involved in artificial crisis of petroleum products. ─ Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior was informed on Thursday that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had found 12 top oil importers directly involved in artificial crisis of petroleum products to mint money in connivance with some government functionaries last year.

A meeting of the committee presided over by Senator Rehman Malik was briefed by the petroleum secretary and the FIA additional director general on the artificial shortage of oil with reference to the failure of the departments concerned to control corruption and hoarding by the oil marketing companies (OMCs) which had caused inconvenience and unrest all over the country.

It was informed that the artificial shortage was created by oil importers as diesel was imported illegally from Iran by using forged documents. The committee was apprised that the artificial shortage and stockpiling of petroleum products were a major problem which caused a loss of billions of rupees to the national exchequer.

It was revealed that the owners of some firms had their networks of oil smugglers in Dubai and the United Kingdom.

In June last year, the country witnessed a repeat of the 2015 petroleum shortage. The reason was, once again, the falling global prices and the attempt by the oil industry to avoid inventory losses.

According to media reports, the supply chain has always been dependent on smuggling — by some companies and dealers — from Iran with around 5,000 tonnes daily imports or 150,000 tonnes monthly supplies.

It was also decided by the Senate committee that an in-camera meeting would be held next week where the FIA will brief on the mechanism the oil importers used for the artificial shortage and the benefit drawn out of it. A subcommittee of the standing committee will also be constituted to look into the details and all those officials who were involved in the crime will be taken to task.

Some points have been identified in Dubai, the UK, Singapore, Malta where the money has been illegally transferred which will be dealt with under the money laundering laws and fraud.

The chairman of the committee said that after submission of a final report by the FIA and Ministry of Petroleum, the committee will invite Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss findings of the inquiry by the FIA.

The committee gave a detailed questionnaire to the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority chairman and asked him to come up with a comprehensive plan to stop the shortage of oil in future.

The committee also took up a matter regarding alarming spread, sale and use of a new drug “Zombie” in Pakistan, particularly in big cities. The drug is highly intoxicating and makes the addict very aggressive.

The committee recommended that the drug should be added to the category of heroin and its possession, use and sale may invite punishment equivalent to that of heroin.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2021

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