Newly-appointed Federal Minister for Information Technology (IT), Raja Pervez Ashraf. - Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD: The newly-appointed federal Minister for Information Technology (IT), Raja Pervez Ashraf, who is one of the main accused in the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) scam, joined investigation into the case on Thursday by recording his statement before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

On the other hand, the Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction over the progress made by NAB in the case.

“Raja Pervez Ashraf visited the NAB headquarters and joined the investigation by giving his statement,” the bureau’s Prosecutor General, K.K. Agha, told Dawn.

He said the minister stuck to his previous stance that he had done nothing wrong in the award of RPP contracts signed between 2006 and 2008 to plug the energy shortfall as a stop-gap arrangement.

Mr Ashraf claimed that due to objections raised in different circles, he had ordered a third-party audit by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). “Had I been afraid that this would prove something against me, why would I have asked the ADB for the audit,” he said.

In the light of ADB’s audit report, the Supreme Court declared on March 30 that the RPP contacts were not transparent and asked NAB to recover the money from the owners of the projects with interest for the period they had kept it.

The NAB served notices on owners and chief executives of all RPPs to pay about Rs22 billion they had received from the government as mobilisation advance for setting up the plants.

Most of the RPPs could not work after receiving the money and those who installed their plants did not meet the schedule.

The bench consisted of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez.

The court reprimanded the NAB chairman for not having arrested any of the persons covered by the judgment and failing to file a reference before an accountability court despite a lapse of over two weeks.

The prosecutor general (accountability) said the NAB chairman had been asked in the judgment to proceed in accordance with the law.

He said an inquiry had been launched Under Section 18 of the NAB Ordinance and evidence had been collected for the trial.

“Due process has, therefore, been followed as NAB has taken steps to ensure that its inquiry would not be compromised,” he said, adding that requests had been made for putting names of the persons involved in the case on the exit control list and freezing their bank accounts.

The court said its judgment could be used as the reference and there was no need of the NAB inquiry.

However, the prosecutor general said in that case NAB would become redundant in respect of its power of inquiry and investigation. The court also dismissed the NAB chairman’s suggestion given in his report that a transparent process should be initiated for awarding new contracts and ordered him to comply with the judgment and submit another report in accordance with the schedule.

It issued the following order: “Mr Fawzi Zafar, Additional Prosecutor General, Accountability, has submitted a report, which is not satisfactory. We failed to understand as to what is the authority of the chairman, NAB, to seek approval of this court for asking the government to formulate a new policy by following a flawless and transparent procedure under which the existing generators/equipment and machinery can be utilised for full production of electric capacity; he should have realised that this court by means of comprehensive judgment dated 30/03/2012 had already declared that so far as these projects were concerned, these were not transparent and against the relevant law; thus the chairman, NAB, had no authority to approach this court, seeking assistance on this point, as such the request so made by him is turned down. However, we direct him to comply with the judgment dated 30/03/2012 in letter and spirit and submit compliance report as per the schedule fixed in the said judgment to the registrar of this court for our perusal in chambers and passing appropriate orders, if need be.”



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