ISLAMABAD: An accountability court in Islamabad on Monday extended the judicial remands of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former finance minister Miftah till Nov 19 in a case pertaining to allegedly illegal awarding of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import contract.
The accused were presented before the court by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for further proceedings.
Earlier, a medical board had conducted a medical examination of Abbasi at Adiala Jail, where he is incarcerated, and suggested to shift him to a hospital as it identified a stone in his kidney. The board said that it will take more tests to examine the health of the ex-premier.
The corruption watchdog arrested Abbasi in July this year in connection with the ongoing investigation into the LNG contract with Qatar.
Tender for the development of an LNG terminal to tackle the energy crisis was given by the newly-elected government of PML-N back in 2013. Engro participated in the single step, two envelope bidding process. Of the two bidders, Engro’s Elengy Terminal Pakistan Ltd. (ETPL) won the bid for the project for a duration spanning over 15 years. Under the agreement, the company is bound to import up to 3.75 million tonnes of LNG a year from Qatar.
The inquiry into the contract was initiated in June last year when NAB accused Abbasi of illegally awarding the contract to ETPL in the capacity of minister for petroleum and natural resources. The bureau maintains that the steep terms of the multi-billion rupee agreement were signed “in violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules and relevant laws” and caused a hefty loss to the national exchequer.
However, in October last year, a statement issued by Engro said that 2013 bidding for its Karachi terminal was done in an “auditable and transparent” tender process.
The statement came after then petroleum minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had said that the government would revisit contracts through renegotiations claiming that these were secured at “exorbitant rates of an unprecedented level”, indicating some underhand deals.
The apex court on Sept 10, 2018, directed the NAB to complete the inquiry against Abbasi and other accomplices for the alleged corruption in the contract.
In August this year, NAB arrested former finance minister Miftah Ismail after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) rejected his request for an extension in his pre-arrest interim bail in the same case.