- Five arrested by NAB in Rs63.68bn petroleum scam involving PSO
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Saturday ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to investigate the appointment of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) Managing Director (MD) Imranul Haque.
As the apex court resumed hearing a regarding a petition regarding petroleum prices and the imposition of additional taxes, Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan submitted a report on the quality and import of petroleum products.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar ordered NAB to inform the court of its probe into Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Observing the irregularities in the government’s operations, the top judge remarked that it was the way of the state to set up private companies and hire people of their choice to benefit them.
During the hearing, in a dialogue with the PSO MD, the chief justice remarked, “Why shouldn’t you be suspended?”
“When and on whose suggestions were you appointed?” Justice Nisar questioned Haque. The latter responded that he was appointed in 2015 on the suggestion of the then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif. “Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had appointed me on the suggestion of the committee,” Haque informed the court, adding that he was selected from the six candidates finalised by the then government.
In response to the PSO MD’s statement, the chief justice remarked that Haque had no prior experience in the petroleum sector. “Let’s ask a national agency to probe your appointment,” Justice Nisar remarked.
He further suggested that the auditor general should conduct PSO’s audit. “What is this disorder in the country to waste tax revenues?” the chief justice questioned. “How can a Grade 22 employee drawing between Rs0.2-0.25 million be appointed as the MD on a salary of Rs0.4 million?”
Haque then responded that when he took charge of the state-owned petroleum corporation, PSO’s profit was Rs6 billion. “I drove the company’s profit up to Rs18 billion,” he apprised the court.
After ordering the anti-graft body to probe into Haque’s appointment, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing till 1.30pm.
NAB ARRESTS 5 IN RS63BN PSO SCAM:
On the other hand, NAB Karachi, during a series of raids conducted in Karachi, Islamabad and Gilgit-Baltistan, has arrested five accused persons wanted in Rs63 billion petroleum sale purchase scam of PSO.
NAB has arrested former PSOCL general manager Akhter Zameer, former Byco Pakistan Petroleum Ltd (BPPL) chief operating officer Kamran Iftikhar Lari and former BPPL refineries president Qaiser Jamal. Moreover, former PSO general manager Syed Zulfiqar Ali Jaffery was arrested from Islamabad and Jinn Petroleum CEO was arrested from Karachi.
Meanwhile, Dr Syed Nazar A Zaidi, former PSO senior general manager (Marketing) PSO, was arrested from Hunza in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), said NAB in a statement.
The accused arrested from Karachi were produced before Accountability Court on Saturday in Karachi for physical remand. Akhtar Zameer and Qaiser Iqbal were remanded in NAB custody for 13 days each, whereas Kamran Iftikhar was remanded to judicial custody on medical grounds.
Accused arrested from Gilgit-Baltistan and Islamabad will be produced after legal formalities of transit, said NAB.
The anti-corruption watchdog said that the accused, in connivance with each other, awarded an illegal contract of crude oil’s supply worth Rs2.43 billion to BPPL in 2008-09 against which no payment was received. It was also prima facie established against the accused persons that the PSO management abused their authority by entering into an illegal contract of sale purchase of petroleum products with Byco Oil Pakistan Ltd (BOPL) in 2012 for the supply of petroleum products to PSO, whereas BOPL was in fact commissioned in 2013.
As a result of the illegal agreement, substandard products were supplied to PSO which occasioned the loss of Rs60 billion to the national exchequer. “It was also established prima facie during the course of investigation that in the year 2012, PSO management abused its authority by entering into another illegal agreement with BPPL for sale and purchase of petroleum products, whereby PSO supplied superior quality imported products (high-speed diesel and petrol) to BPPL at abnormally subsidized rates, thus causing a loss to national exchequer.”
According to NAB, three agreements were entered into by PSO with mala fide and illegal considerations of extending favours to blue-eyed companies in petroleum business and with intention of personal illegal gains. The entire scam caused loss to the national exchequer to the tune of Rs63.687 billion.