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LNG contract: Ex-PM Abbasi skips NAB appearance

LNG contract: Ex-PM Abbasi skips NAB appearance
March 7, 2019
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – Former Prime minister and the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday excused himself from appearing before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in liquefied natural gas (LNG) contract case. According to the details, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi wrote a letter to the anti-graft watchdog, stating that he could not appear as he was abroad, and made a request to reschedule his appearance after March 17. It is worth mentioning here that the NAB had summoned former prime minister on Thursday (today) him with a reply to the questionnaire in connection with a probe into the LNG contract case. Earlier, the anti-corruption watchdog served a subpoena on the PML-N leader to turn up on March 7 (today) along with a reply to the questionnaire he was handed during his last appearance before a joint investigation team of the bureau. Previously, the four-member team had questioned him for two hours during which he was asked 70 questions. A questionnaire containing 70 queries had been prepared including: “the reason of necessity of the contract, the person who had approved the conditions of the contract, holding the ministry of petroleum while being the prime minister of the state, the number of visits to Qatar for formulating the contract, and how could the contract be signed against rules and regulations and misuse of authority for approval of the contract.”
NAB summons Sheikh Rasheed with evidences of LNG case
On Feb 22, the NAB summoned Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed to come with evidences for his complaint in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) contract case. In his notice, the NAB stated that the minister has been asked to bring along record of LNG scam on Feb 27 at 11pm. The minister was asked in the notice to appear before NAB’s Rawalpindi office. It is pertinent to mention here that Sheikh Rasheed claimed to have details of alleged corruption in the award of a contract for the import of LNG by the then federal petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Last year in February, Rasheed, who is also the chief of his own Awami Muslim League (AML), said he had provided details to NAB chairman about the LNG corruption case.
Case History
The case was registered on the complaint of Shahid Sattar, an energy expert and former member of the Planning Commission and the SSGC board of directors, along with others, accusing Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of misusing his authority and causing a potential $2bn loss to the national exchequer in 15 years. NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal had approved an inquiry against Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for allegedly awarding a 15-year contract for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal against the rules when Abbasi was the petroleum minister in Nawaz’s cabinet. In December 2016, the NAB had wrapped up an inquiry conducted for 17 months against Abbasi for his alleged role in awarding a Rs220 billion contract for the import and distribution of LNG in 2013.The inquiry was stopped despite the fact that it had been proved that the contract had been awarded in a ‘non-transparent manner’. Earlier, former finance minister Muftah Ismail has recorded his statement before the NAB. On 25 October 2018, the NAB reopened the LNG scandal against Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The NAB has decided to summon the former premier for investigation. However, the NAB sought all records from the concerned ministries. On September 10, 2018, the Supreme Court directed NAB to complete inquiry against former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and others for alleged corruption in the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) contract with Qatar and submitted report on it.