Pakistan prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi denies corruption in 2013 LNG project

Islamabad: Pakistan's anti-corruption watchdog closed a probe in December against Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for his alleged role in awarding a Rs 220 billion contract for the import and distribution of liquefied natural gas in 2013, a media report said on Wednesday.

 Pakistan prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi denies corruption in 2013 LNG project

File image of Shahid Abbasi. Getty Images

Addressing parliament soon after his election as Prime Minister, Abbasi on Wednesday rejected any wrongdoing in the LNG project. "I am available here and anywhere for discussion on this issue," he said.

Abbasi, the former minister for petroleum and natural resources, was a principal suspect in the inquiry conducted by the National Accountability Bureau (Karachi) for 17 months.

The NAB closed the case in its regional board meeting held on 19 December 2016 on merit, the Dawn quoted a bureau spokesman as saying.

The inquiry was stopped despite the fact that it had been proved that the contract had been awarded in a 'non-transparent manner'.

A document available with the paper showed that in the meeting the Karachi NAB director general said, "After exhaustive discussion it has been decided that it is an ongoing project and any intervention by NAB at this juncture will jeopardise the efforts of provision of LNG from the project of public/national importance. It is, therefore, decided [to close the] inquiry [at] our end."

However, the document said that in the same meeting it was unveiled that "during the inquiry proceeding it has been established that management of Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL), in non-transparent manner, selected M/s Engro as a successful bidder for LNG terminal at port Karachi".

The NAB inquiry found that the SSGCL signed the 15-year contract with a subsidiary company of Engro for re-gasification of LNG at fixed daily processing charges.

The government authorised the Pakistan State Oil to procure LNG on behalf of the SSGCL.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has decided to file a petition in the Supreme Court against Abbasi.

Updated Date: Aug 02, 2017 19:29:10 IST