ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Tuesday acquitted former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail and others of corruption in the award of a contract for RLNG Terminal after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) withdrew the reference against them.

The reference filed by the anti-graft watchdog in the accountability court stated that one LNG company had received benefits of billions of rupees because of the 15-year contract.

The case, which was earlier closed by NAB in 2016 before being reopened in 2018, pertained to the LNG terminal contract allegedly awarded against the rules at a time when Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was petroleum minister in the cabinet of then PM Nawaz Sharif.

When the case came up for hearing on Tuesday, NAB had already filed an application seeking the withdrawal of its reference. Deputy Prosecutor General Azhar Maqbool contended before the accountability court of judge Nasir Javed Rana that the bureau had decided to withdraw the case.

Engro Corp welcomes ‘much-awaited decision’

In addition to ex-ministers Abbasi and Ismail, others nominated in the case include Engro group chairman Hussain Dawood, former chairpersons of Ogra Saeed Ahmed Khan and Uzma Adil Khan; former managing directors of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) Sheikh Imranul Haq and Shahid M. Islam; ex-chairman of Port Qasim Authority Agha Jan Akhtar, former Ogra member Aamir Naseem, and PSO official Abdul Sammad.

A year after the NAB case was reopened, Mr Abbasi was arrested in July 2019. He, as well as ex-minister Ismail, were sent to jail, while ex-MD of PSO and ex-CEO of Engro Corporation Sheikh Imranul Haq obtained a post-arrest bail from the Islamabad High Court in the case.

While accepting NAB’s application for the withdrawal of the reference, Judge Nasir Javed Rana acquitted all the accused.

Decision welcomed

The acquittal was hailed by Engro Corporation, which claimed that no evidence was found to prove any illegality or loss to the national exchequer in the matter.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Engro Corporation stated: “The accountability court has honourably exonerated and acquitted our chairman Hussain Dawood, director Abdul Samad Dawood, and former CEO Sheikh Imranul Haq, in the award of the LNG contract to Engro Elengy Terminal Limited, as no evidence was found to prove any illegality, irregularity, or loss to the national exchequer.

“Engro Corporation welcomes this much awaited decision of the accountability court. Engro has always strived to act in a fair and transparent manner in all its business and commercial commitments. Over the last six decades, the company has built its reputation through a strong focus on effective corporate governance, ethics and integrity, and compliance with the laws of the land.

“The LNG terminal in question is an essential part of Pakistan’s energy infrastructure; it supplies 15 per cent of Pakistan’s total gas requirement, which is a critical industrial and domestic input, to a growing country. Engro remains committed to the progress and well-being of Pakistan by striving to solve some of the country’s most pressing issues.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2024

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