NAB reference in Ogra shows weaknesses

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ISLAMABAD: The 6,000-page reference filed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in February in the alleged Rs82 billion Ogra scandal case has charged the current and a former managing director of the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) with offences committed during a period when they were not holding that office. Current Managing Director (MD) Zuhair Siddiqui replaced Azeem Iqbal Siddiqui in the office in November 2012 whereas the offences against both of them relate to September-October 2010 when Faizullah Abbasi was the MD until May 2011.

But the reference mentions both Zuhair and Iqbal as MD, and uses the same language to frame the charge that each “curtailed gas supply to CPPs/IPPs (captive power projects and independent power projects) illegally and in a discriminatory manner” during 2008 to 2010.

Each of them “misused his authority and illegally gained pecuniary benefits.

“He, along with his senior officers during his period of MD ship ordered/approved in writing the load – enhancement of industrial consumers during 2008-2010,” the reference charged.

It adds that “from the perusal of the list of load enhancement and list of CNG/industrial stations where gas supply has been awarded in utter discrimination of accused person’s powers and authority”.

Advocate Mirza Mehmood Ahmed, a sitting member of the Board of Directors of Sui Southern Gas Company and SNGPL, “misused his position and pleaded the case of increase in UFG (unaccounted for gas, meaning gas loss) … in connivance with Touqeer Sadiq (the under-trial former chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, Ogra),” says the reference.

Mirza Mehmood Ahmed “remained actively involved in shares manipulation of SSGC on account of illegal raise in UFG,” says the reference, framing the charges of conflict of interest against him.

Mirza Mehmood Ahmed, however, denies that charge.

“The Sui Southern Gas Company Board had unanimously approved to hire the services of law firm ‘Minto & Mirza’ as counsel to pursue the UFG case, and there was nothing illegal about it,” he told Dawn.

“In fact I deliberately stayed away from the board meeting that took the unanimous decision.”

Mirza Mehmood was hired by SSGC in 2010 when the MD Sui Southern Gas Company was Faizullah Abbassi.

“As far as the accusation that I pleaded for increase in the UFG is concerned, that was what the SSGC and the SNGPL had been demanding for almost a decade.

“They hired me because I am an expert in gas affairs, but it could have been any other person.”

Even the Pakistan Bar Council has condemned NAB for charging me to be a counsel for SSGC and SNGPL, he recalled.

A related reference filed by NAB in Ogra scam pertains to illegal appointment of Tauqir Sadiq as chairman Ogra. Former premiers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf are being tried on that charge in an accountability court.

Tauqir Sadiq and 11 others are accused to have caused the national exchequer a loss of Rs82 billion by their alleged corrupt practices and illegal decisions.

In the interim reference that it filed in this case in the accountability court in November 2012 had mentioned a loss of Rs52 billion.