ISLAMABAD –The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that the incumbent and the former prime ministers were involved in the illegal appointment of Tauqir Sadiq as chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra).
The NAB also maintained Tauqir was in Lahore but could not be traced, as there was a possibility that the Punjab government was protecting him. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing contempt of court case against former chairman Ogra Tauqir Sadiq, while NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Mr Fouzi and an investigation officer Mr Waqas appeared in person during the proceedings.
Waqas apprised the bench that Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, during his stint as minister for water and power, was the chairman of the board, while federal secretaries Zafar Mehmood and Nargis Sethi were its members, that had interviewed Tauqir Sadiq and forwarded his appointment to the then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. The court directed the NAB chairman to file a duly-signed concise report pertaining to tangible efforts to recover Rs 83 billion money embezzled in Ogra and take stern action against those involved in these corrupt practices.
At the outset of the hearing, the NAB deputy prosecutor submitted a report relating to appointment of Tauqir, a close relative of PPP leader and Senator Jahangir Badr, as the Ogra chief and the misuse of authority and corruption during his tenure. The report said despite the ban, the regulatory body issued new licences to more than 500 CNG stations and also granted approval for relocation of CNG and industrial stations.
It added that Tauqir and Mansoor Muzaffar (member gas) and Mir Kamal Marri (member finance) caused a loss of Rs 44 billion to the national exchequer in the form of Gas Development Surcharge (GDS).
The bench was informed that the former chairman increased the benchmark of Un-Accounted for Gas (UFG) from 4.5 per cent to 7 per cent against the global practices without explaining the basis and rationale behind it, which resulted in irrational and unjustified benefits to the gas companies.
The NAB official further told the bench that the bureau was further investigating as to what extent and quantum the involved accused person had gained pecuniary benefits.
The report stated that losses to the tune of Rs 87.28 million was caused by illegal stay orders in gas theft cases by Mansoor, out of which Rs 56.46 million were still recoverable. It added that an estimated loss of Rs 22 billion was caused to the national kitty as the authority increased well-head gas price from $2.80 per MMBTU to $3.9 per MMBTU for Dewan Petroleum Limited.
The NAB said Rs 13.27 million were paid to lawyers in defending the former chairman in fake degree case, whereas Rs 0.85 million were paid to Makhdoom Ali Khan to represent him before Sindh High Court in a case.
During the proceedings, the chief justice observed a deal processed within two hours caused a loss of Rs 36 billion to the national kitty and added that Tauqir issued notification for the contract which was forwarded to the Petroleum Ministry, while oil and gas tariff was upped by dollars per unit.
Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said if this money had been invested elsewhere, it would have improved the country’s economic and social situation.
NAB inquiry officer Waqas also told the court that Tauqir could not be arrested ever since the case had emerged, adding that the Ogra chief was continuously deceiving them by changing location and contact in Lahore. He hinted that Tauqir might be protected by the Punjab government, because currently, he was in the province and could not be tracked.
The chief justice, in his remarks, said the court would provide protection to the investigation officer. He further said the report shows that the NAB chairman was not complying with the court orders. Therefore, chairman NAB was ordered to file a duly-signed concise report pertaining to tangible efforts to recover Rs83 billion embezzled money from Ogra amid stern action against those involved in corruption and corrupt practices.
The hearing was adjourned till August 13.