Ex-secretary granted bail in Nooriabad projects case

Published June 7, 2021
An IHC division bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Babar Sattar granted bail to former Sindh energy secretary Agha Wasif Abbas against surety bonds worth Rs2 million. — IHC website/File
An IHC division bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Babar Sattar granted bail to former Sindh energy secretary Agha Wasif Abbas against surety bonds worth Rs2 million. — IHC website/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has granted pre-arrest bail to a former provincial energy secretary in connection with the Nooriabad power projects investigation, which is being conducted by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

An IHC division bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Babar Sattar granted bail to former Sindh energy secretary Agha Wasif Abbas against surety bonds worth Rs2 million.

A joint investigation team in the fake accounts case had earlier probed him for his alleged involvement in fake bank account scams by extending illegal favour to Technomen Kinetics (Pvt) Ltd (TKL) and other projects of Sindh Nooriabad Power Company (Pvt) Ltd (SNPC) and Sindh Transmission and Dispatch Company (Pvt) Ltd (STDC). The inquiry was later converted into investigation.

The anti-graft watchdog said Abdul Ghani Majeed created a systematic process of whitening black money through 250-megawatt power projects at Nooriabad, which had been established on a public-private partnership basis.

Court observes petitioner was not a stakeholder of the entities benefited by the power projects

According to NAB, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah being the minister in charge of energy and finance departments was also involved in the process, because he allegedly rendered illegal benefits through his directions and thus played a key role at policy level.

NAB had filed a corruption reference in the accountability court last year.

The counsel for the bureaucrat contended that undeniably the petitioner being the then energy secretary in the relevant period had neither been charged with any allegation of corruption and corrupt practices nor was there any allegation of misappropriation or illegal gains in the entire project. Mr Abbas being an official representing the Sindh government in the said project had joined the investigation and recorded his statement, the counsel said, reminding the court that principal accused Khurshid Anwar Jamali had already been given post-arrest bail.

NAB’s special prosecutor, however, argued that the inquiry and investigation had been initiated against Mr Abbas as he was serving as provincial secretary when SNPC was conceived. He argued that in order to initiate the project the accused persons had obtained loans from banks. Besides aiding equity by the Sindh government, additional favours had been received through collateral of National Bank of Pakistan, he said.

The court noted that the petitioner being the then energy secretary during the project approval had not applied his judicious mind and ignored the observations and concerns of Hesco, with the result that the project cost had increased. The bench, however, also observed that the petitioner was not a stakeholder of the entities benefitted by the said projects before granting him bail.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2021

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