Imran, Sheikh Rashid to challenge LNG deal with Qatar soon


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed are all set to approach the Supreme Court during next few days against the alleged corruption made in the buying of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Qatar.

Sources close to both the leaders informed Pakistan Today that the two will soon approach the apex court against the alleged corruption made in the LNG import contract by the ruling government. They said necessary preparations to file an appeal in the SC are in full swing, as paperwork and gathering of authentic evidence to prove the claim has almost been finalised. They also said Advocate Naeem Bokhari and Babar Awan will appear before the Supreme Court from Imran Khan’s side, while Barrister Dr Mohammad Farogh Naseem is likely to represent Sheikh Rashid in the court.

The sources added that both the leaders are making efforts to highlight the issues of high pricing of commodity (LNG) agreed in the agreement instead of opting for spot buying, pressurising  the officials to sign the deal, violations of law and irregularities in the procedures of award of LNG terminal contract before the apex court through a writ petition.

They said the SC is expected to summon the officers of SNGPL, SSGCL, PSO, and ISGS, while the OGRA officers allegedly involved in issuing illegal LNG terminal construction license to ETPL may also be called on by the court to record their statements. They further said that OGRA officers named as Amir Naseem, the then member (Gas) OGRA; Mohmand Yasin, the then executive director LNG; Imran Akhter, joint executive director (LNG); and Raheel Pitafi, assistant executive director (LNG) are allegedly involved in the issuance of a license. Furthermore, Shahid Nauman Afzal may also be summoned as he, while being executive director (LNG) OGRA in 2014, had outrightly refused in writing to sign and issue LNG terminal construction license to ETPL and was later suspended on baseless and frivolous grounds.

It is crucial to note that despite a period of more than two years, a NAB inquiry regarding the award of LNG contract and billion rupees payment to the Elengy Terminal Pvt Ltd (ETPL) is still in the doldrums. The contract was allegedly signed in the violation of rules, causing a huge loss to the national exchequer.

A copy of NAB inquiry report, available with Pakistan Today, revealed that incumbent Prime Minister Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi—who was then a petroleum minister—former petroleum secretary Abid Saeed, Inter-State Gas Systems Pvt Ltd (ISGS) Managing Director Mobin Saulut, Sui Southern Gas Company Limited former MD Zuhair Ahmed Siddiqui, and Engro Pvt Ltd CEO Emranul Haq were involved in the awarding of the LNG contract.

Misuse of authority in awarding LNG terminal by violating the Pakistan Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules, and billions rupees payment to the ETPL for LNG gasification is estimated to have caused a loss of $ 2 billion (approximately) in 15 years, said the NAB report.

The NAB report also revealed that Abbasi has played a significant role in the awarding of the tender to the ETPL, and also in the execution of tender through the ISGS, instead of state-owned gas utilities. “Active role of the minister in the execution of tender through ISGS, instead of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) or Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) has been identified,” the report reads.

Similarly, Abid Saeed also played a vital role in the awarding of the tender. He chaired all the meetings of the ISGS through ETPL, announced as a qualifier. Moreover, Mobin Sulat played a key role not only in the awarding of the tender but he also floated the LNG tender without considering/involving SSGCL or SNGPL.

He also played a vital role in changing the integrated tender into tolling tender; issued tender without the approval of ISGS board or SSGCL board, and announced the ETPL as a qualifier on draft and unsigned “Technical Evaluation Report” of the QED.

The inquiry report also stated that Emranul Haq, while being chief executive officer of ETPL, has also played a crucial role. “All correspondence with ISGS, SSGCL and others are made with his signatures. He is also one of the signatories of the LSA on behalf of ETPL,” the report mentions.

Furthermore, the report has stated that Zuhair Ahmed Siddiqui has been found attending all board meetings of the ISGS held during October to December 2013. He also executed and attended board meetings of the SSGCL held during September 2013 to April 2014. On top of that, he is also one of the signatories of LSA on behalf of the SSGCL.

NAB inquiry report has further pointed out that, though SSGCL was not a procuring agency; however, it has signed LSA with ETPL as an operator. Similarly, there was no signing between SSGCL and SNGPL, which authorised the SSGCL to act on the behalf of the SNGPL.

Also, the SSGCL paid around Rs4 billion in approximately 130 days to the ETPL against the capital investment of Rs12 or 13 billion only.  “At this rate, the capital investment of ETPL shall be recovered in 14 months, and the remaining 13 years will the profit of ETPL. This aspect is further requested to be investigated in details,” NAB report states.

It is to note here that NAB investigation officer, who conducted the inquiry into the awarding of LNG contract to ETPL and billion rupees payment by SSGCL to the ETPL, has submitted an interim report to the NAB headquarters.

However, despite the fact that the report recommended a formal inquiry, the names of the alleged accused involved in the mega corruption scandal have not been placed on Exit Control List (ECL) and are under process, even though NAB authorised inquiry on July 29, 2015.

Shahid Sattar, an energy expert, earlier filed a complaint with NAB against the management of SSGC, Engro and others regarding LNG contracts. It has been alleged that tender for the awarding of LNG import and distribution work has been illegally awarded to ETPL. From 2013 till date the offence is being committed, said the report.

On finding the complaint, NAB initiated the inquiry on July 29, 2015, against the management of SSGC, ENGRO and others regarding the awarding of LNG contracts in 2013 to ETPL and others. NAB director general (Karachi) authorised an investigation into the matter.